Led by researchers at Edinburgh University, Strathclyde University and Public Health Scotland, the EAVE II study showed early data that the highly-transmissible strain may lead to a reduced risk of being hospitalised with Covid, compared the the Delta strain.
Last week, Omicron overtook Delta are the most dominant strain in UK.
Omicron lower hospitalisation risk than Delta
In the study, early data showed that the Omicron strain is two-thirds less likely than Delta to hospitalise someone infected.
Authors of the study recorded 23,840 probable cases of Omicron as of 19 December, with only 15 hospital admissions recorded during this time.
While the news may be welcome by many who have been waiting on evidence of Omicron’s impact since its rapid rise across the UK, the Covid-19 incident director for Public Health Scotland warned that it was “important we don’t get ahead of ourselves”.
Dr Jim McMenamin said: “The potentially serious impact of Omicron on a population cannot be underestimated. And a smaller proportion of a much greater number of cases that might ultimately require treatment can still mean a substantial number of people who may experience severe
“Covid infections that could lead to potential hospitalisation.”
A preprint of the study also stated that, although the risk of hospitalisation is likely lower, retransmission is 10 time higher than Delta.
It reads: “This national investigation is one of the first to show that Omicron is less likely to result in Covid-19 hospitalisation than Delta. It finds the rate of possible reinfection for Omicron is 10 times that of Delta.”
It is also worth noting that the study is yet to be peer reviewed, and that data for over 60s and unvaccinated people was limited at the time of the study.
Two vaccine doses ‘significantly’ less effective
Despite the encouraging early data, the study also showed evidence that only two doses of vaccine are “significantly” less effective against Omicron compared to previous strains.
Scientists also found that a booster jab may reduce the likelihood of a symptomatic infection by around 57%.
Experts who undertook the study said: “It also finds that third/booster vaccine doses offer considerable additional protection against symptomatic disease when compared to ≥25 weeks post second vaccine dose with these benefits being seen with all available vaccines.”
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