No evidence omicron variant of Covid is less severe than delta: UK study

An employee at a downtown testing station takes a swab from a woman. In Lower Saxony, stricter Corona rules apply in many regions.

Hauke-Christian Dittrich | image alliance | Getty Images

LONDON – There is currently no evidence that the new omicron variant of Covid-19 is less severe than the delta variant, according to the initial findings of a study from Imperial College London in the UK.

“The study finds no evidence that Omicron has a lower severity than Delta, judged either by the proportion of people who test positive who report symptoms or by the proportion of cases requiring hospital care after infection,” said said a research team led by Professor Neil Ferguson on Friday. in a blog post accompanying the study.

The study used data from the UK Health Security Agency and the UK Health Service for all PCR-confirmed Covid cases in England between November 29 and December 11.

However, the data only included 24 hospitalizations of patients suspected of having the omicron variant, with the researchers saying “data on hospitalizations remains very limited at this time.” The study has not yet been peer reviewed.

The study estimates that the risk of reinfection with the omicron variant is 5.4 times that of the delta variant.

The data imply that the protection against omicron reinfection offered by a previous infection may be as low as 19%, he said. After two doses of a vaccine, this protection is between 0% and 20%, he added, with a booster increasing this level between 55% and 80%.

Ferguson, a UK government medical adviser, added in the blog post: “This study provides further evidence of the very important extent to which Omicron can evade previous immunity given by both infection and vaccination. . This level of immune evasion means Omicron poses a major and imminent threat to public health. “

The UK reported 93,045 cases in a single day on Friday, another record. Long queues have been seen outside vaccination centers in many towns and villages across the UK as the government kicks off its booster program to try to get as many people as possible to get a third vaccine vaccinated. people possible.

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