‘No Evidence’ That Omicron is Less Severe Than Delta, Say Imperial Researchers

There is at present "no evidence" that the Omicron coronavirus variant is any less severe than the Delta strain, according to early findings from researchers at Imperial College London, which also highlighted the elevated risk of reinfection posed by Omicron and the need for booster shots to combat it. From a report: The research, based on UK infection data, casts doubt on the hopes of some experts that a change in the virulence of the new variant would ease the pressure on health systems despite Omicron's high levels of infectiousness. "The study finds no evidence of Omicron having lower severity than Delta, judged by either the proportion of people testing positive who report symptoms, or by the proportion of cases seeking hospital care after infection," said the research team, led by Professor Neil Ferguson, an infectious disease modeller and government science adviser. However, they cautioned that hospitalisation data "remains very limited at this time." The study said data suggested "at most, limited changes in severity compared with Delta." Early reports from medics in South Africa's Gauteng province, the centre of the Omicron outbreak there, had raised hopes that the variant's mutations might have led to a change in the virus' biology causing it to be less severe.

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