According to statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Omicron is now the most common coronavirus variant in the US, accounting for about three-quarters of COVID-19 cases in the week ending Saturday.
This happened more quickly than the US had anticipated, but experts have warned it was unavoidable given Omicron's extraordinary contagiousness and ability to bypass people's protection - from vaccinations and previous COVID-19 illness. As the number of people infected with COVID-19 rises in the United States, here's what we know about how the Omicron variant differs from the Delta.
Is Omicron milder than Delta?
Omicron seems to produce less severe illness in adults, according to a major research study from South Africa (but not in children). Another early study of Hong Kong discovered that Omicron multiplies less effectively in the lungs, perhaps resulting in less severe illness. However, considering how infectious and immune-evading Omicron is, the total threat is "likely to be extremely considerable," scientists said as per CNET via MSN.
Dr. Anthony Fauci stated at a news conference on Wednesday that data from South Africa shows that Omicron has a lower severity than the Delta variant, including criteria like hospital stay and the requirement for supplementary oxygen treatment. "We must wait to see what occurs in our own populations, which has its own demographic implications," he added, saying that this isn't the complete story because Omicron is rapidly spread.
Which one is lower in hospitalization rate?
When compared to the Delta variant, researchers led by Professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College London predicted a "moderate reduction" in risk from Omicron. Patients infected with Omicron were found to be 15% to 20% less likely than Delta patients to be admitted to A&E and 40 to 45 percent less likely to be admitted to the hospital for one night or longer.
After controlling for age, sex, underlying health problems, vaccination status, and past infection, scientists discovered that Omicron was 11% less likely to cause serious illness in any particular individual.
Per iNews, from December 1 to 14, the Imperial study looked at 56,000 cases of Omicron and 269,000 cases of Delta in England. It was discovered that having had a previous COVID-19 infection cut the likelihood of Omicron hospitalization in half compared to the first infection.
Omicron patients stayed in the hospital for 0.22 days on average, compared to 0.32 days for Delta patients. Experts concede that additional research is needed, particularly in older age groups where Omicron is currently less prominent.
Professor Ferguson, whose modeling was used to inform the Prime Minister's decision to impose England's first national lockdown in March last year, said that while the findings were "excellent news," they did not modify Sage's forecast of 3,000 daily hospitalizations in England next month.
According to preliminary findings from research done in the United Kingdom, COVID-19 infections with the Omicron variant of coronavirus are less likely to result in hospitalization than infections with the Delta strain. In comparison to Delta, Omicron patients are 15-20% less likely to go to the hospital and 40-45% less likely to be hospitalized for a night or longer, according to research that has yet to be peer-reviewed.
These anticipated reductions in severity must be evaluated against the increased likelihood of infection with Omicron due to the loss in the protection afforded by both vaccine and spontaneous infection, according to Imperial College London researchers. They pointed out that, at a population level, a larger number of infections might still result in a substantial number of hospitalizations, as per Zee News.