More reports bolster evidence of lower Omicron severity




South African researchers yesterday shared more evidence on the Omicron variant impact, which supports initial signs that illnesses may be less severe, with separate groups from the United Kingdom reporting similar findings.

Scientists still aren’t certain about severity and the role high population immunity is playing, but the signs are reassuring as countries face steep Omicron (B.1.1.529) surges ahead of the holidays.

More data from South Africa

The South African study appeared yesterday in a non-peer-reviewed study posted on medRxiv. A research team based at the country’s National Institute for Communicable Diseases used multiple data sets to look at test, case, genome, and hospitalization across South Africa to compare Omicron with other variants, including Delta (B1617.2).

They looked at hospitalization and severe disease through Dec 21, enough time to capture delayed, more serious outcomes, which the initial reports weren’t able to assess.

They found that the hospitalization rate was 80% lower for Omicron as compared to other variants overall and 70% lower when compared specifically with Delta. They said some of the reduction is probably due to high population immunity.



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