COVID is less severe with Omicron than Delta, U.S. study suggests
26 January, 2022, 1:10 pm
Jan 25 (Reuters) – The Omicron variant appears to result in less severe COVID-19 than seen during previous periods of high coronavirus transmission including the Delta wave, with shorter hospital stays, less need for intensive care and fewer deaths, according to a new U.S. study.
However, the fast-spreading Omicron variant has led to record numbers of infections and hospitalizations, straining the U.S. healthcare system.
The lower COVID-19 disease severity during the Omicron period is likely related to higher vaccination coverage, booster use among those eligible for the extra shots, as well as prior infections providing some immune protection, the study said.
The findings were consistent with previous data analyses from South Africa, England and Scotland, where infections from Omicron peaked earlier than in the United States, the CDC said.
The study involved analysis of data from a large healthcare database and three surveillance systems to assess U.S. COVID-19 characteristics from Dec. 1, 2020 to Jan. 15, 2022.
The authors said one limitation of the study was that it was unable to exclude incidental infections in which patients admitted for other reasons test positive for COVID while in the hospital. That may inflate hospitalization-to-case ratios and affect severity indicators.