Omicron hospitalisation risk around one third of delta, UK analysis shows

Britain is experiencing a surge in
COVID-19 cases driven by the highly-transmissible omicron variant, with record
daily infection levels being reported. While hospital admissions have started
to rise, the government has said it believes the new variant is milder than the
delta variant.

The number of patients needing
mechanical ventilation beds has also remained steady through December, unlike
previous peaks in the pandemic.

The analysis was published by the UK
Health Security Agency, after it worked alongside Cambridge University MRC
Biostatistics unit to analyse 528,176 omicron cases and 573,012 delta cases.

It also found that vaccines can work
well against omicron.

“In this analysis, the risk of
hospitalisation is lower for omicron cases with symptomatic or asymptomatic
infection after 2 and 3 doses of vaccine, with an 81% … reduction in the risk
of hospitalisation after 3 doses compared to unvaccinated omicron cases,”
the UKHSA said.

Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at
UKHSA, said the analysis was in keeping with other encouraging signs on omicron
but said the health service could still struggle with such high transmission

“It remains too early to draw any
definitive conclusions on hospital severity, and the increased transmissibility
of omicron and the rising cases in the over 60s population in England means it
remains highly likely that there will be significant pressure on the NHS in
coming weeks,” she said.

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