Omicron has been shown to be milder than Delta. It is also less likely that it will cause severe illnesses, as three large studies from England, Scotland, South Africa, and England have established. 

Based on the 300,000 population in England, Neil Ferguson’s paper titled “Professor Lockdown” found that the mutant strain is up to 45% less likely to cause hospitalisation than Delta.

The No10 adviser — who just last week warned there could be 5,000 daily Omicron deaths in the UK — said the fourth wave will be ‘nothing like what was seen last year’ on the back of the new findings.

A similar study in Scotland found the risk of being hospitalised was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta — but it was based on 15 hospitalised cases.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh said Omicron is as serious as Delta. They would have treated around 47 patients in a hospital in Scotland for Omicron, but so far only 15.

Following a comprehensive analysis of South Africa’s 160,000 infected persons, the UK study found that the risk of hospitalization with the new variant was 80 percent lower than it predecessor.

Omicron is now more mild than its predecessors. This confirms the claims South African physicians have been making for several weeks.

Researchers aren’t sure if Omicron has an intrinsic milder strain than other strains, but they think that Omicron may have built up natural or vaccine immunity to do the bulk of the work.

Professor Ferguson — dubbed Professor Lockdown for gloomy modelling that spooked ministers into restrictions — said he was ‘cautiously optimistic’ on the back of all three studies.

However, he cautioned that hospitals may still be under severe pressure this winter as any reduction in the severity of infection will be countered by an increase to epidemic levels.  

Omicron was found to be 10 percent less likely than Delta to result in hospitalizations in those who were not vaccinated against it or have been previously infected. Hospitalisation is up to 20 per cent less likely in the general population — including those who have been infected or vaccinated — and 45 per cent less likely for at least a night

University of Edinburgh researchers found the risk of being hospitalised with Omicron was 65 per cent less with Omicron than with Delta. Graph shows: The rate of hospitalisation in different age groups for Delta (green) and Omicron (red) cases in Scotland

University of Edinburgh researchers discovered that Omicron had a 65 percent lower risk of hospitalisation than Delta. Graph: Omicron and Delta hospitalization rates in Scotland.

Delta (in red) made up virtually all Covid hospital admissions in November but hospitalisations from Omicron (green) started to tick upwards in December. This is because the first case of Omicron was detected in Scotland on November 20 and it takes several weeks for people to fall ill enough to be hospitalised

In red, Delta made up almost all Covid hospital admissions for November. However Omicron hospitalisations started increasing in December. Because Omicron is a disease that causes people to become seriously ill, it can take several weeks before they are able to get hospitalized.

The above graphs show the rate of Omicron — S gene negative — and Delta — S gene positive — cases by vaccination status. This was unvaccinated (uv), one dose ofthe vaccine up to three weeks ago (v1_0:3), one dose more than four weeks ago (v1_4+), two doses of the vaccine up to a week ago (v2_0:1), two doses of the vaccine two to nine weeks ago (v2_2:9), two doses of the vaccine 10 to 14 weeks ago (v2_10:14), two doses ofthe vaccine 15 to 19 weeks ago (v2_15:19), two doses of the vaccine 20 to 24 weeks ago (v2_20:24) and two doses of the vaccine more than 25 weeks ago (v2_25+). The graph also includes three doses of the vaccine less than a week ago (v3_0), three doses with the third administered up to a week ago (v3_1) and three doses more than two weeks ago (v3_2+)

The above graphs show the rate of Omicron — S gene negative — and Delta — S gene positive — cases by vaccination status. The graph shows the following: unvaccinated, one dose of the vaccine no more than 3 weeks ago(v1_0_3), one dose less than 4 weeks ago (4+), 2 doses Omicron — S gene negative (v2_0_1), 2 doses vaccine between 10 and 14 weeks (v2_2_9), 2 doses vaccine from 15 to 19 week (v2_15.19), 2 doses vaccine between 20 and 24 weeks (v2_20.24), 2 doses vaccine that were more than 25+) Three doses of vaccine were administered less than a weeks ago (v3_0), one dose more than four weeks ago, three doses (v1_0:3) and three doses (v2_4+) respectively.

This graph from the Scottish paper show the age distribution of cases of Omicron (left, as 'S Negative') compared to Delta (right, as 'S Positive'). It shows that children were most likely to test positive for Delta in Scotland whereas young adults are driving the country's Omicron wave

This graph is taken from the Scottish paper and shows how the Omicron case distribution compares to Delta. This graph shows how children in Scotland were more likely to be positive for Delta than young adults.

Their study, which has not been peer-reviewed and was published on pre-print website medRxiv , found that among the 10,547 Omicron cases identified between October 1 and November 30, 261 (2.5 per cent) were admitted to hospital. For comparison, among the 948 non-Omicron cases in the same period - almost all of which would have been Delta, which was behind 95 per cent of cases before Omicron emerged - 121 people were hospitalised (12.8 per cent). The researchers said shows that those who caught Omicron had a 80 per cent lower risk of requiring hospital care

The study was not peer-reviewed but published online on medRxiv. It found that 261 (22.5%) of the 10 547 Omicron cases between October 1 and Nov 30, were admitted to hospital. The study was compared to 948 non Omicron cases, almost all of them Delta cases, that were behind 95 percent of Omicron-related cases, where 121 patients were hospitalized (12.8%). Researchers found that Omicron patients had a lower likelihood of needing to be admitted.

Research by Imperial College London shows that Omicron-confirmed PCR is a better indicator of who will need hospital admission. It also indicates that Omicron-confirmed PCR makes it less likely for people to stay in the hospital for more than one night.

Study has shown that Omicron is a lower-risk option than Delta for those who have never received Covid vaccines and are not immune to it.

For the first time, new Covid cases surpass 100,000 

Over 100,000 Covid cases have been recorded in Britain today as Wales announces tougher New Year curbs. This could increase pressure on Boris Johnson, who may be forced to tighten his lockdown restrictions.

The government dashboard data showed that there were 106.122 positive tests in the country over the last 24 hour, up three times the number last week. This surpasses the record of 93.345 set last Friday. 

Although today’s cases were the largest ever, there are indications that week-on-week growth is slowing. It was only 52% yesterday and 70% on weekends.

Omicron has risen despite the grim predictions of Government modelling, which predicted that the super-strain mutant would multiply every 2 days. This could result in a quarter of a million cases per day at the end of this year. 

According to the latest hospital data, there were 813 UK admissions on December 18, which is just five percentage points more than a week ago. To 140, deaths dropped 15% week-on-week 

Hospital admissions are increasing more slowly than they were in the previous wave. There is also growing evidence suggesting that Omicron might be responsible for milder cases. 

The chance of being hospitalized for someone who has recently been infected was reduced by 69% in unvaccinated as well as vaccinated individuals.

The finding may explain why in South Africa — where up to 70 per cent of people have immunity from prior infection but only a quarter are jabbed — is seeing daily hospitalisations stall at less than 400.

This notoriously grimy specialist confirmed that he anticipated the Omicron waves to be more mild, with patients leaving hospitals faster and fewer Covid death, however, warned there might still be substantial pressure on NHS.

He cautioned that infection rates could be 40 percent higher in the future than with Delta, which would negate any improvement.

Professor Ferguson explained that he could see a rise in London’s hospitalizations. It won’t be for long and it is unlikely that they will have to admit people with severe illnesses.

‘And that’s not a reflection of Omicron versus Delta — that was already true for Delta infections, that they’re less severe than they were last year because there’s a lot of immunity in the population.

“The problem is that even if they’re enough, it poses quite a challenge for the NHS. This is not the same situation as last year, when there were too many ventilator beds and intensive care units.

His analysis showed a slight reduction in the likelihood of hospitalisation when compared to the Delta version.

However, the Omicron-based variant appears to have a lower effectiveness in terms of vaccinations.

“Given Omicron’s transmissibility, it is possible for the health service to be in demand should Omicron case growth continue at the pace that was seen in the past weeks.

This data was just seconds after Omicron’s similar Scottish study found that the likelihood of getting hospitalized with Omicron was 65% lower than Delta.

University of Edinburgh researchers found that Omicron could have as serious as delta, and would have treated around 47 people at a hospital in Scotland. But so far they only treat 15.

Researchers have found that Omicron is less serious than previously thought, but more transmittable due to the fact that current coronavirus vaccines against it are not as effective.

The peer review of both studies is still ongoing. Dr Jim McMenamin (the national Covid incident director in Public Health Scotland) described the Scotland study findings as a “qualified good news story”.

The number of Omicron cases reported in the UK is increasing slower than scientists predicted. However some experts fear that the country has hit the limit of its testing capacity and that this is throttling the data

Omicron cases are increasing in the UK at a faster rate than scientists expected. Some experts believe that Omicron cases are increasing faster than expected, and the nation has reached the limits of its testing capabilities. This could mean that data is being throttled.

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

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

London Covid hospitalizations go up by half a week from 301 

Covid hospitalisations in London have risen 50 per cent in a week to 301, approaching the Government’s threshold of 400 for introducing lockdown restrictions across the country, official data showed today.

Because London has been a week ahead of other countries in Omicron, ministers may be monitoring the admission rate in London before deciding to impose more restrictions.

Government sources say officials are considering a national two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown after Christmas if London’s daily admissions breach 400 this week — which would signal ‘unsustainable’ pressure on the NHS. 

London recorded 301 daily admissions on December 20 — the most recent date with data — which was more than double the figure on December 5. It would only take two weeks to reach the 400 mark if the current pace continues. 

London was the epicenter of Omicron infected UK, and it happened two weeks prior to the super mutant strain becoming dominant. Experts are interpreting trends in the capital as an indication of future events for England. 

Although London has seen an increase in hospitalizations recently, the daily numbers are not as high as the peak of 850 last winter. And they began from a lower base.

But there are fears that the sheer scale of infections that have already occurred in London may be ‘baked in’ and cause a big spike in the coming days. In order to deal with anticipated increases in admissions the NHS might set up ‘field hospital’ within existing hospital carparks.

Three weeks after the new outbreak, Omicron infections in the Capital seem to have stopped. According to insufficient data, the number of Omicron infections in capital cities has dropped to 26,000 after doubling in one week. In the past four days, their rate of growth has also fallen.

According to the South African National Institute for Communicable Diseases, Omicron patients were 70% less likely than those suffering from Delta to be admitted to ICU and placed on a ventilator. 

South African doctors insist that Omicron has been milder ever since they alerted the public on November 24, and accuse the UK panicking over Omicron.

The study was not peer-reviewed by the NICD, but the researchers said that it doesn’t prove Omicron to be intrinsically stronger than Delta.

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.  

This will give hope to the UK that it is also facing a less severe wave. With 75% being double-jabbed, and half of those boosted, the findings are encouraging. 

The above studies are believed to have been the reason Boris Johnson pumped the brakes on tougher Christmas restrictions despite case numbers rising to record levels — with 106,122 positive tests recorded today. 

Today, Mark Drakeford, the Welsh First Minister, announced that new Covid restrictions would be in place on Boxing Day. This will include the ban of large New Year’s Eve parties and the reintroduction of the six-year rule for restaurants and pubs.

Social distancing of two metres will resume in public places. However, hospitality venues will limit their services to tables and only allow customers to wear masks when they’re not sitting down.

Scotland also issued stricter guidelines for the Christmas period, but the Prime Minister said that there was not enough evidence to support tougher restrictions.

Last night, the PM stated that Christmas could be made ‘cautiously’. However, he warned that while the government is monitoring the spread of mutant strains hourly and is ready to take action after December 25, if needed. 

The Imperial College London report 56,000 cases of Omicron and 269,000 cases of Delta over the first two weeks of the month. 

Professor Ferguson commented, “Our analysis indicates a moderate decrease in the likelihood of hospitalization associated with Omicron variants than with the Delta variant.” 

However, the Omicron-based variant appears to have a lower effectiveness in terms of vaccinations. 

“Given Omicron viruses’ transmissibility high, health services could face increased demand if Omicron infections continue to rise at the same rate as in recent weeks.

Professor Azra Gandhi from Imperial College London said that although the Omicron version has reduced hospitalizations, it still poses a risk for infection. 

“Vaccines offer maximum protection against infection, hospitalisation and the use of booster vaccines.

Experts claimed that Omicron was significantly more effective in patients who had an existing infection.

Professor James Naismith is a University of Oxford structural biologist.

“However the study does not show that Omicron has a lower severity than Delta, which indicates it isn’t less severe.

“This surprise finding, however, is supported by solid data. The benefit of boosters is not reported.

“The same risks as EAVE II are highlighted in the study. Omicron can cause severe illness in people and more people end up in hospitals.

“Decreasing spread to allow time for population coverage with booster is the best strategy.” 

Scientists from the Scotland-wide Early Pandemic Evaluation and Enhanced Surveillance Of Covid reported that Omicron was associated with a reduction of two-thirds in hospitalization risk compared to the dominant strain.

The national Covid incident director at Public Health Scotland Dr Jim McMenamin called the findings “qualified good news” but stressed that we shouldn’t be too optimistic.

He added: “The potential severe impact Omicron can have on a populace cannot be underestimated. 

“And while a lower proportion of the cases might eventually require treatment, it could still indicate a significant number of people with severe Covid infections which may lead to hospitalisation.” 

MailOnline analysis of UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) data shows Covid cases doubled in all but one of Omicron London's 32 boroughs last week and trebled in seven

MailOnline’s analysis of UK Health Security Agency data (UKHSA), shows that Covid cases increased by two-thirds in every Omicron London borough last week, and tripled in seven.

Reports have claimed ministers are watching hospitalisation numbers in the capital, with a two-week 'circuit breaker' lockdown set to be imposed if daily numbers surpass 400. London is averaging 217 admissions a day as of December 19, the latest date daily figures are available for

According to reports, ministers monitor hospitalisations in London. If daily figures exceed 400, a lockdown of two weeks will be put in place. London averages 217 admissions daily as of December 19, according to latest figures.

The paper’s authors have yet to peer review it. They stated that if Omicron was like the Delta version in Scotland, they would have treated around 47 patients with the virus. However, as of now, only 15.

However, Professor Mark Woolhouse of the University of Edinburgh said that it is heavily caveated right now. It is only a limited number of cases. The information doesn’t include data about those who are most at-risk, such as the 65+. 

Penny Ward (Visiting Professor in Pharmaceutical Medicine at King’s College London) said, “On a Day when the UK has recorded its largest ever amount of confirmed Covid infections per day, some great news has come out from Scotland, and Imperial College. 

“Both studies indicate that the infection caused by the Omicron variant is less serious than the Delta variant. This was based on comparing hospital admissions. 

“At the moment, the studies were based upon comparisons that had different follow-up periods because of the newer appearance of the Omicron variant. This leaves some uncertainty about the possibility of more severe outcomes for subjects who are affected by the Omicron variant and require hospital admission. 

Elle continued, “But, based upon this preliminary data, the decision not to impose greater restrictions social mixing than what is currently advised under Plan B may be more reasonable than others have suggested.” 

“This does not diminish the remarkable spread of the variant throughout the population. The fact that even a tiny proportion of those who need hospital care for Covid could become very large indeed, if the rate of community attacks continues to rise, with all the implications for overstretching an already stretched NHS. 

“It is important that we all take reasonable care and test our abilities to get boosters as quickly as possible. This will help us all to have a more joyful new year than last year.

It comes after official data showed there were another 302 hospital admissions in London on December 20, the latest date data is available for, which was up 79 per cent in a week — but still a fraction of the peak during the second wave, when there were 850.

Because London has been cured of Omicron, ministers may be monitoring the admission rate in London before deciding to impose more restrictions.

Government sources say officials are considering a national two-week ‘circuit breaker’ lockdown after Christmas if London’s daily admissions breach 400 this week — which would signal ‘unsustainable’ pressure on the NHS.      

The Guardian published the news as it was. The NHS may set up field hospitals in hospital parking lots to supply’super surge’ capacity in case Omicron creates a significant spike in hospitalisations.