A major South African study suggests that Omicron-eating people are 81% less likely to need hospitalization than Delta-eating ones.

The real-world analysis, of more than 160,000 people, comes ahead of a similar UK Government report believed to show Britons are also less likely to be severely ill with the variant. 

Omicron also had a lower severity rate than the Delta wave that swept through the country in April-November. There were 70% fewer patients who needed mechanical ventilation or admitted to ICU.

The researchers found that Omicron admissions to Delta were almost identical in recent months. This could have been due to built up immunity.

South African physicians insist for weeks Omicron is more milder than it was when they raised the alarm on November 24, and accuse the UK of being panicked about Omicron.

However, the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases, (NICD) researchers who conducted the study said that it doesn’t yet answer whether Omicron or Delta is intrinsically more weak than Omicron.

Researchers concluded that it was difficult to determine the contribution of the high level of immunity in the past population versus the intrinsically lower virulence due to the lower degree of disease severity. 

The most important thing in keeping patients out hospital is the built-up immunity to the three preceding waves of this virus.

South Africans could have been vaccinated with Covid up to 70% of the time. Only 25% are double-vaccinated and boosters are not yet widely available.  

These findings raise hopes that the UK will also be facing a milder tsunami. The UK has 75% of its population double-jabbed, and almost half of it boosted.  

Omicron cases from South Africa dropped yesterday for the fourth straight day. However, the daily Omicron cases for the UK have remained steady at approximately 90,000 over six days.

South Africa’s hospital admissions have dropped by five percent in one week. They are now at or below 400 per daily, with an average of around 300 per day. The UK has a hospital rate of around 900 per person, which is mostly unchanged since the end of summer. 

This is despite the fact that the Government has warned of 1 million Britons being at risk for contracting the virus every day by year’s end.

Paul Hunter from the University of East Anglia is an expert on infectious diseases and described the South African study’s importance. He also said that it was the first pre-print study of Omicron severity to be properly done.

However, Professor Hunter stated that its biggest weakness was the way it compared Omicron data of one period to Delta data from an older period.

Omicron still fades in South Africa’s ground zero

Daily Covid cases in South Africa have fallen for the fourth day in a row as Omicron continues to fade in the variant’s epicentre. 

According to data from the National Institute For Communicable Diseases, South Africa’s 15,424 people tested positive within the past 24 hours. This is down 33% from last Tuesday’s nearly 24,000 confirmed cases.

A fifth fewer people were tested for the first in the last 24 hours compared to the same period last week, but test positivity — the proportion of those tested who are infected — has been trending downwards for eight days.

But hospitalisations and deaths – which lag two to three weeks behind the pattern seen in case numbers due to the delay in an infected person becoming seriously unwell – have risen.

Over 630 people were admitted to hospital across the nation, an increase of only 5% in one week and the largest daily total since the fourth wave. 

Last Wednesday’s record of 620 hospitalized people was set last week. Meanwhile, 35 people died. This is a 46% increase on Tuesday.

This is despite the fact that only 25% of South Africans have been double-jabbed. Boosters are also not distributed in South Africa. 

This raises the possibility that Omicron waves from the UK will be brief-lived. Britain has a booster program which provides additional protection.  

The Omicron surge is a serious threat to the health of UK citizens. There are uncertainties over its severity and whether vaccines can protect against severe consequences.

However, there are encouraging signs that cases have been slowing down in the UK. In the past six days, around 90,000.0 infections were recorded.

This is despite the fact that the Government has warned of 1 million Britons being at risk for contracting the virus every day by year’s end.

Boris Johnson today reaffirmed his opposition to Christmas curbs. Omicron does not have enough evidence to justify it. 

He stated that Omicron cases were more likely to be admitted to hospital than Delta cases. However, it was not clear if this could have been due to differences in virus virulence, or a higher level of immunity among the population in November.

“To some extent, this doesn’t matter to patients who care only that they don’t get very sick.” However, it’s important to be able to better understand how health services will respond to these pressures.

A group of scientists at the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, (NICD), and top universities such as University of KwaZulu-Natal and University of the Witwatersrand performed the analysis.

Data were sourced from four sources. These included data from national COVID-19 cases reported to the NICD and data from one of the large private sector laboratories. Genome data was also used to analyze clinical specimens from both private and public diagnostic centers across the country sent to the NICD.

The researchers compared Omicron infection data from October and November to data regarding Delta infections, which was all taken in South Africa.

Omicron was determined to have occurred in a case if it failed to detect a part of the virus’ cells. This is a sign that Omicron has been extensively mutational and there are high levels of Omicron within the specimen.

If a patient is admitted to hospital in the seven- or 21-day period after testing positive, a hospitalisation can be linked to a positive case.

Patients with severe diseases are those who have been admitted to ICU or require mechanical ventilation. They also receive oxygen therapy and fluid leakage into the lungs.

This study has been published preprint on the medRxiv website. The authors found that 2,61% (2.5%) of 10,547 Omicron patients identified between October 1, and November 30, were admitted into hospital.

For comparison: Of the 948 non Omicron cases during the same time – nearly all of which would be Delta which was behind 95 percent of Omicron’s cases – only 121 were admitted (12.8%)

The researchers found that Omicron-infected people had an 80 percent lower chance of needing hospitalization after accounting for all other factors.

The illness severity was identical among patients hospitalized with each strain over the nine week period. Only 317 out of 382 (83%) were discharged prior to December 21.

The scientists did however find that Omicron patient were more likely to be hospitalized than Delta ones earlier in the year.

1.734 South Africans have been admitted since the outbreak of the pandemic. Their test results were either Alpha, Beta or Delta. 

Omicron infection rates were also higher than those of Delta patients, confirming recent research and evidence that Omicron is more transmissible.

According to the researchers, around 7/10 South Africans have been infected in Covid since November. Omicon also revealed that 25% of South Africans are double-jabbed.

Experts said it is difficult to determine how vaccines and previous infections contribute to Omicron’s high immunity to hospitalisation and serious illness. They also discussed how Omicron’s severity is affected.

Researchers found that there was no significant difference in severity between Omicron- and Delta patients who were hospitalized in the past two months. This suggests that Omicron’s reduced severity may be due in part to high immunity levels in the population, possibly from previous infections or vaccines.

In a separate study, officials who looked at 78,000 Omicron cases in the past month found the risk of hospitalisation was a fifth lower than with Delta (in green) and 29 per cent lower than the original virus (dark blue). Omicron is shown in brown and the original South African 'Beta' variant in light blue. Children appeared to have a 20 per cent higher risk of hospital admission with complications during the new wave than the initial outbreak, despite the numbers still being tiny

Officials who examined 78,000 Omicron patients in the last month discovered that the likelihood of being hospitalized was five times lower than for Delta (in blue) and 29% lower than for the original Omicron virus (dark). Omicron in blue and South African’s original ‘Beta’ variant in dark blue are shown. The new outbreak caused a 20% increase in hospital admissions for children with complications, even though the number of cases was still small.

As a crude rate, Omicron is currently causing a third fewer hospital admissions than Delta did during its entire wave — 38 admissions per 1,000 Omicron cases, compared to 101 per 1,000 for Delta

As a crude rate, Omicron is currently causing a third fewer hospital admissions than Delta did during its entire wave — 38 admissions per 1,000 Omicron cases, compared to 101 per 1,000 for Delta 

UK Covid Cases remain flat for 5th day in row

Britain’s Daily Covid Cases have stopped for five days in succession, as an expert suggested that the Omicron wave might have reached its peak.

There were 90,629 infections in the past 24 hours across the UK, up 52 per cent on last Tuesday’s toll but down slightly on the figure yesterday — despite wild projections of up to a million daily infections by New Year,

The cases have not changed since Friday last week when they reached an all-time high of 93,000. 

Omicron is gaining popularity in London. However, it appears that the wave may be slowing down. The capital saw 20,491 cases today. That’s slightly less than the 22,750 recorded yesterday.

Boris Johnson may have been influenced by slowing stats to decide not to impose tougher restrictions prior to Christmas. The Prime Minister claimed today that there wasn’t enough evidence to support them.

Last week, ministers received gloomy modelling from the Government that indicated the mutant variant was increasing in number every 2 days and could be infecting up 400,000 per day by the weekend. 

MailOnline was told by Professor Paul Hunter at the University of East Anglia that Johnson made the right choice because the cases “look like they have peaked”. 

The team stated that the high immunity of our population (due prior to infection or vaccination) could be beneficial in preventing severe diseases.

Scientists cautioned that their findings should not be taken as gospel. The study was done early in Omicron waves, when patients with milder symptoms are more likely to receive admission. It also only considered individuals whose information was collected during their stay. This may have biased the results towards those with shorter stays.

Paul Hunter (a University of East Anglia professor of medicine) said that the results are the first proper study to assess Omicron’s severity in relation to Delta.

He said that its biggest weakness was the way it compares Omicron data from one time with Delta data from a different period.

Dr Hunter said that Omicron cases were more likely to be admitted to hospital than Delta cases. However, this cannot be attributed to differences in virus virulence.

“But, to a certain degree this is not important for the patient who just cares about not getting very sick.” However, it’s important to be able to better understand how health services will respond to these pressures.

This is after an independent study that looked at 78,000 Omicron patients in South Africa and found that the likelihood of being hospitalized was 55% lower than for Delta, 29% lower than for the original Omicron virus.

As a crude rate, Omicron is led to a third fewer hospital admissions than Delta did during its entire wave — 38 admissions per 1,000 Omicron cases compared to 101 per 1,000 for Delta.

Two doses of Pfizer’s vaccine provided 70 percent protection against Omicron-related hospitalizations or deaths, as compared with 93 percent for Delta.

Although this provides more protection than scientists originally believed, 30 percent of those still at risk for severe Omicron Disease, which is four times the number found in Delta, are still vulnerable.

The country’s case number has risen dramatically due to the fact that a two-dose Pfizer regimen did not provide 33% immunity against Omicron infection.