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Omicron less severe, hospital stays shorter across California healthcare system

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Omicron less severe, hospital stays shorter across California healthcare system

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A healthcare worker administers a Covid-19 test in San Francisco, California on Monday, January 10, 2022.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Patients in a large Southern California healthcare system who had the omicron Covid variant were much less likely to need hospitalization, intensive care, or die from the virus compared to those infected with the delta strain , a study revealed this week.

Infectious disease experts found that omicron patients at Kaiser Permanente Southern California were 74% less likely to end up in intensive care units and 91% less likely to die than delta patients. The study found that none of the patients with omicron required mechanical ventilation.

The risk of hospitalization was 52% lower in omicron patients compared to delta, according to the study, which has not yet been peer reviewed. Researchers are publishing studies before they are considered by other experts due to the urgency of the pandemic.

Hospital stays of omicron patients were also approximately 3 days shorter than those of delta patients. Unvaccinated patients were also less likely to develop serious illness, the data showed.

“Reductions in disease severity associated with Omicron variant infections were evident in both vaccinated and unvaccinated patients, and in those with or without a previous documented SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the research team found. .

Kaiser Permanente Southern California provides care to more than 4.7 million people. The study analyzed more than 52,000 omicron cases and nearly 17,000 delta cases.

The large US study adds to a growing body of real-world data from the UK and South Africa indicating that the omicron variant, while more contagious, does not make people as sick as the delta variant.

However, World Health Organization officials have pointed out that omicron, while generally less severe than delta, still poses a threat to the lives of unvaccinated people, the elderly, and people with blood disorders. underlying health.

“We can certainly say that an omicron variant causes, on average, less severe disease in any human – but it is on average,” said Dr Mike Ryan, WHO’s health emergency program chief. , in a Q&A that was broadcast live Tuesday on the WHO’s social media channels.

“There are hundreds of thousands of people around the world being hospitalized while we are talking about the omicron variant, and for them it is a very serious disease,” Ryan said. He warned that omicron was still pose a “massive threat” to the life and health of unvaccinated people, encouraging them to get vaccinated so that they are protected as the variant spreads rapidly.

Maria Van Kerkhove, WHO technical officer for Covid-19, said a lower proportion of people died from omicron, but the variant still poses a serious risk for the elderly and those with ailments underlying.

“We know that mortality increases with omicron with age,” Van Kerkhove said on Tuesday. “We also have data from some countries which shows that people with at least one underlying disease are at increased risk of hospitalization and death, even if you have omicron compared to delta.”

Dr Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, said the United States was reporting around 1,600 Covid deaths per day on average, a 40% increase from the previous week. However, Walensky told reporters during a White House briefing on Covid that these deaths are likely due to the delta variant, as notification of new deaths typically lags new infections.

The United States on Monday reported a pandemic record of nearly 1.5 million new Covid infections, with an average of around 750,000 new infections per day over the past week, according to CNBC analysis of compiled data by Johns Hopkins University. This compares to a seven-day average of about 252,000 new cases per day a year ago.

Hospitalizations are also higher than last winter’s peak – before widespread vaccine distribution – and continue to rise. More than 152,000 people in the United States were hospitalized with Covid on Wednesday, up 18% from last week, according to data tracked by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Omicron less severe, hospital stays shorter across California healthcare system

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