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No need for more restrictions! Omicron hospital risk lower than Delta, studies show

Sadiq Khan warns 'things only going to get worse' with Omicron

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The revelations were made in two studies published yesterday, supporting Boris Johnson’s decision to restrict the further measures. Both studies are yet to be peer-reviewed. 

Studies comparing patients with Delta and Omicron in England and Scotland showed an encouraging pattern of lower severity with the newer variant.

According to one of the studies, the risk of requiring hospital treatment was reduced by up to 64 percent for people with Omicron compared with Delta.

The research looked at 56,000 cases of Omicron in England from December 1 to 14 and 269,000 cases of Delta.

The study also suggested that prior infection appeared protective against hospital admission with Omicron.

However, there was not enough data to calculate any reduction in intensive care admissions or deaths for the new variant.

Research among Scottish patients found that people who tested positive for Omicron were about 64 percent less likely to be admitted to hospital than those with the Delta variant.

Professor Chris Robertson, of the University of Strathclyde, told The Times that the level of Omicron hospital admissions had been “much lower than we expected”.

The study looked at nearly 127,000 Delta patients and nearly 24,000 with Omicron.

The number of hospital admissions was small — 967 with Delta and 18 with Omicron.

Dr Jim McMenamin, the Covid-19 incident director at Public Health Scotland, said the results were “a qualified good news story”.

There was still a risk, he stressed, that a surge in cases could overwhelm the NHS.

Professor James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute, who was not involved in the research, agreed that the findings were positive.

He said: “The two-thirds reduction in hospitalisation of double vaccinated young people compared to Delta indicates that Omicron will be milder for more people.”

However, the research also showed that Omicron can cause severe illness in people who are double-jabbed.

Prof Naismith said: “Thus if Omicron continues to double every few days, it could generate many more hospitalisations than Delta from the double vaccinated population.”

Researchers led by Professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College London calculated a “moderate reduction” in risk from Omicron.

They found that, compared with Delta cases, Omicron cases were between 15 and 20 percent less likely to need to go to A&E and 40 to 45 percent less likely to be admitted to hospital for a night or more.

However, the lower efficacy of the vaccine against Omicron may offset the reduced severity of the virus, they warned.

There is still a concern that even if Omicron is milder in general, a large number of cases will result in severe pressure on the NHS.

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Prof Naismith said: “Thus if Omicron continues to double every few days, it could generate many more hospitalisations than Delta from the double vaccinated population.”

Researchers led by Professor Neil Ferguson at Imperial College London calculated a “moderate reduction” in risk from Omicron.

They found that, compared with Delta cases, Omicron cases were between 15 and 20 percent less likely to need to go to A&E and 40 to 45 percent less likely to be admitted to hospital for a night or more.

However, the lower efficacy of the vaccine against Omicron may offset the reduced severity of the virus, they warned.

There is still a concern that even if Omicron is milder in general, a large number of cases will result in severe pressure on the NHS.

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