Researchers at California’s Kaiser Permanente found that Covid-19 caused by the Omicron variant of the coronavirus cut the risk of hospitalization by half compared to the Delta variant and also reported 91% reduction in the risk of death, the New York Times said in a report.
The report also outlined that the outcome of the study undertaken by researchers in California also matched with similar studies conducted in South Africa, the UK and Denmark.
The researchers analysed patient records of more than 52,000 Omicron patients and found that none of those went on ventilators. The study was conducted by Dr Joseph Lewnard and his team, who dug up medical records of Kaiser Permanente of Southern California – a large medical system which caters to more than 4.7 million people. Lewnard said that these findings indicate ‘a viral factor that accounts for reduced severity’ while speaking to the New York Times. His study is yet to be published in a scientific journal.
Lewnard and his team analysed records of 69,279 symptomatic patients who tested positive for Covid-19 between November 30 to January 1. Three quarters of those patients were infected with the Omicron variant. Excluding incidental Covid-19 patients – people who came to the hospital for other purposes but ended up finding that they were infected with Covid-19 – Lewnard’s team followed up on the others to see if they ended up in the hospital.
The team also found that people hospitalized with the Omicron variant remained in hospitals for a shorter amount of time than patients infected with the Delta variant. There was a 70% reduction in hospital stay compared to Delta. The team highlighted that among those who did not receive the vaccine, Omicron’s effects were mild but the team maintained that the vaccine is the only way to prevent severe infections.
His study outlined that vaccinated patients who got Covid-19 were 64-73% less likely to be hospitalized compared to those who were unvaccinated.
Scientists in other parts of the world who are conducting research on this contagious variant are still struggling to understand why Omicron is causing mild infection. They, however, believe that immune defences built during the previous wave could prevent severe infection.