President Biden spent the majority of his speech on Tuesday inciting fear into the American people, explaining that the spread of the omicron variant is justification for more shutdowns and vaccine mandates. He particularly chastised unvaccinated Americans, telling them it is their “patriotic duty” to receive the jab.
While the omicron variant appears to be very transmissible, there seems to be good news on the horizon. A study released by the National Institute for Communicable Diseases was printed in the medical publication MedRxiv and found South Africans who had contracted the omicron COVID-19 variant were an entire 80% less likely to be hospitalized than those who contracted its preceding variants.
The omicron data was collected for two months through November. Experts say the good news is data could show we are transitioning from a pandemic world to an endemic one. Bloomberg reports on the study, “Once admitted to the hospital, the risk of severe disease doesn’t differ from other variants, the authors led by scientists Nicole Walter and Cheryl Cohen said. Compared to delta infections in South Africa between April and November, omicron infections are associated with a 70% lower risk of severe disease, they said.”
Omicron was discovered in South Africa, with a fully vaccinated population of about 44%, on November 25. The study authors adjusted for factors that could influence results such as age, gender and whether the cases were known reinfections.
For severity of disease after admission, they also adjusted for the presence of other illnesses and prior immunization. The study also showed that those with omicron may have higher viral loads.
The study is “important,” though its use of so-called historic controls when comparing to the delta infections between April and November means its outcome may be biased by time issues, said Paul Hunter, a professor of medicine at the U.K.’s University of East Anglia.
“So even though cases of omicron were less likely to end up in hospital than cases of delta, it is not possible to say whether this is due to inherent differences in virulence or whether this is due to higher population immunity in November compared to earlier in the year,” Hunter said.
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