A new study out of South Africa has provided some good news about the Omicron variant of the coronavirus. Researchers found that the strain, which was first discovered in South Africa, has an 80% lower risk of hospitalization than the other strains of the virus.
The results of the study showed that patients admitted to the hospital with the Omicron variant in October and November were just as likely to develop a severe case of COVID-19 compared to people diagnosed with other strains. However, the researchers noted that those hospitalized with the Omicron variant during those two months were 70% less likely to develop a severe case than those hospitalized with the Delta variant between April and November.
“Compellingly, together our data really suggest a positive story of a reduced severity of Omicron compared to other variants,” Professor Cheryl Cohen of the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD), one of the study’s authors, said, according to Reuters.
The researchers suggested that one reason Omicron is milder than other variants is because of a higher rate of population immunity as the variant spread.
“It is difficult to disentangle the relative contribution of high levels of previous population immunity versus intrinsic lower virulence to the observed lower disease severity,” they wrote.
The Omicron variant was first identified in late November and has quickly spread across the globe. It has become the dominant strain in the United States, and new infections are doubling every 1.5 to three days.