British Data Suggests Lower Hospitalisation Rate for Omicron Covid-19 Variant

Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation. The preliminary studies — one paper from Scotland and the other from England — were cautiously welcomed by experts, who nonetheless stressed that any advantage in milder outcomes could still be negated by the new strain’s heightened infectiousness, which may still lead to more overall severe cases.

We’re saying that this is qualified good news — qualified because these are early observations, they are statistically significant, and we are showing a reduced risk of hospitalisations,” Jim McMenamin, a co-author of the Scottish research, told reporters on a call.

The Scottish paper examined Covid cases recorded in November and December, and grouped them by cases caused by Delta against those caused by Omicron. It found that “Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction in the risk of Covid-19 hospitalisation when compared to Delta,” while also showing that a booster vaccine offered substantial additional protection against symptomatic infection.

https://www.france24.com/

Omicron: two doses of Pfizer offer 70% protection against hospitalisation

Pfizer-BioNTech’s COVID-19 vaccine has been less effective in South Africa at keeping people infected with the virus out of hospital since the Omicron variant emerged last month, a real-world study published on Tuesday showed.

Between Nov. 15 and Dec. 7, people who had received two doses of the shot had a 70% chance of avoiding hospitalisation, down from 93% during the previous wave of Delta infections, the study showed. When it came to avoiding infection altogether, the study by South Africa’s largest private health insurance administrator, Discovery Health, showed that protection against catching COVID-19 had slumped to 33% from 80% previously.

The findings from the real-world analysis are some of the first about the protection vaccines offer against Omicron outside of laboratory studies, which have so far shown a reduced ability to neutralise the virus.

Source: https://www.reuters.com/

Boris Johnson: UK faces ‘tidal wave’ of omicron cases

Prime Minister Boris Johnson warned Sunday that Britain faces a “tidal wave” of infections from the omicron coronavirus variant, and announced a huge increase in booster vaccinations to strengthen defenses against it. In a televised statement, Johnson said everyone age 18 and older will be offered a third shot of vaccine by the end of this month in response to the omicronemergency.” The previous target was the end of January.

He said cases of the highly transmissible variant are doubling every two to three days in Britain, and “there is a tidal wave of omicron coming.”

And I’m afraid it is now clear that two doses of vaccine are simply not enough to give the level of protection we all need,” Johnson said. “But the good news is that our scientists are confident that with a third dose – a booster dose – we can all bring our level of protection back up.”

He announced a “national mission” to deliver booster vaccines, with pop-up vaccination centers and seven-day-a-week getting extra support from teams of military planners and thousands of volunteer vaccinators. Johnson’s Dec. 31 target applies to England. The other parts of the U.K. — Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland — are also expected to speed up their vaccination campaigns.

The U.K. Health Security Agency says existing vaccines appear less effective in preventing symptomatic infections in people exposed to omicron, though preliminary data show that effectiveness appears to rise to between 70% and 75% after a third vaccine dose.

Source: https://www.startribune.com/