Omicron vs Delta: first data from hospitals in South Africa

The hospital data on the severity of the Omicron mutation released today by the South African authorities is encouraging.

According to these data, less than a third of patients admitted to hospitals during the last wave of the disease (associated with the Omicron mutation) were severely ill, while in the previous two waves of the pandemic, 2/3 of those hospitalized were severe.

The data were published by the National Institute of Infectious Diseases (NICD) in Chuan, the metropolitan area of ​​the capital Pretoria, where the first suspected manifestation of the “Omicron” mutation occurred, with 1,633 admissions to public and private hospitals between November 14 and December 8.

31% of patients had a severe form of the disease, that is, patients needed oxygen or mechanical support for breathing, compared with 66% of patients who were severe in the second wave.

Scientists in South Africa have raised the alarm for the first time new mutation late last month when they noticed an unusually large number of mutations, especially in the protein spike, which the virus uses to invade human cells. This makes Omicron more infectious or more dangerous, whether the patient is vaccinated or not.

The NICD points out that the study has some inherent limitations, that is, it has not yet received scientific validation, and that the incidence of severe illness may increase as the fourth wave develops.

However, the report does not include data on how many patients were vaccinated or not, so it is unclear to what extent higher vaccination coverage alleviated symptoms.

Overall, the first data for Omicron so far has shown that it is much more infectious than any previous option, but symptoms may be milder, with a lower hospitalization rate, especially in vaccinated patients.

South Africa reported 20,000 new cases on Wednesday, a record number since Omicron was discovered, and 36 coronavirus-related deaths.

Based on a Reuters post.

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