It has been shown that fewer Covid patients are using ventilation in hospitals than during previous pandemics.
Recent figures from London hospitals show that Omicron variant coronavirus is not as severe as other strains.
Yesterday’s figures were 3744 patients at London’s Covid hospitals, compared with around 1000 at the beginning of November.
But, despite all this, there was a significant increase in the number of mechanical ventilating beds used from just 175 up to 230.
It means that around 6 percent of patients in hospitals require assistance to breathe. This is a substantial drop from the 20 to 25 per cent averaged during summer.
Although Covid admissions to London hospitals have tripled in the past year, ventilation beds numbers rose only 175 percent to 230.
London has fast become the UK’s Omicron hotspot, with one in 20 people testing positive in the week leading up to Christmas.
Paul Hunter, professor of medicine at the University of East Anglia, said the reduced need for ventilation is a ‘hopeful sign’.
According to him, The Telegraph reported that the lower occupancy rate for mechanical ventilation beds seems consistent in multiple European countries.
“There were also statistics from South Africa showing that Omicron-treated patients admitted to hospitals had a lower chance of dying, or even being admitted to ICU.
Six individual studies suggest the Omicron variant multiplies more in throats instead of the lungs, which may be one reason why it seems more infectious but less deadly than previous strains.
One study from the University of Liverpool’s Molecular Virology Research Group claimed the strain led to a ‘less severe disease’ in mice.
It stated: ‘Those infected with the Omicron variant had less severe clinical signs (weight loss), showed recovery and had a lower virus load in both the lower and upper respiratory tract.
‘This is also reflected by less extensive inflammatory processes in the lungs.’
A growing body of evidence indicates the Omicron variant targets the throat instead of the lungs – leading to a milder illness.
These new findings are based upon a University of Hong Kong study that found less Omicron inhalation.
Omicron was found to infect and multiply 70 times more quickly than both the original Covid and Delta variants, possibly explaining why Omicron can transmit so easily.
But the study also found that Omicron infection in the lungs was ‘significantly lower’ than previous strains of the virus.
The University of Cambridge’s Ravi Gupta conducted research that found Omicron could evade vaccines better, while still being less likely to cause serious illness to the lungs.
Professor Gupta said: ‘We speculate that the more efficient the virus is at infecting our cells, the more severe the disease might be.
‘The fact that Omicron is not so good at entering lung cells and that it causes fewer fused cells with lower infection levels in the lab suggests this new variant may cause less severe lung-associated disease.’