South Africans who contract the omicron COVID-19 variant in the current fourth wave of infections are 80% less likely to be hospitalized compared with other strains, according to a pre-print study released Tuesday.
Article by Art Moore from our news partners at WND News Center.
A separate study released this week by researchers at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland found the omicron hospitalization risk was two-thirds below delta.
Meanwhile, Michael Dowling, the president and CEO of Northwell Health in the New York City area, told CNN on Wednesday morning his hospital system is doing well, even as COVID cases increase, and “there is no crisis.”
His network of 22 hospitals is at less than 10% capacity, with 460 patients. At this time last year, there were 1,000 patients, and during the first COVID wave, in the spring of 2020, there were 3,500.
“We do expect an increase now over the holidays, but it is all manageable, we will be able to deal with this,” Dowling said. “And I think it’s time for people to be a little bit calm, a little bit more rational.”
Significantly, the omicron wave in South Africa, which was first to detect the variant Nov. 25, may already have peaked.
After a high of nearly 27,000 new cases nationwide last Thursday, only 15,424 cases were reported Tuesday.
“The drop in new cases nationally combined with the sustained drop in new cases seen here in Gauteng province, which for weeks has been the center of this wave, indicates that we are past the peak,” Marta Nunes, senior researcher at the Vaccines and Infectious Diseases Analytics Department of the University of Witwatersrand, told the Associated Press.
The new South Africa study, from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases, found that once admitted to the hospital, the risk of severe disease is the same as other variants, Bloomberg News reported.
The lead authors, Nicole Walter and Cheryl Cohen, said
that compared to delta infections in South Africa between April and November, omicron infections are associated with a 70% lower risk of severe disease.
See the CNN interview with Michael Dowling:
JUST NOW: "We're doing very, very well. Very manageable. There's no crisis. We have about 460 patients in our hospitals. That's less than 10% of our overall capacity."@NorthwellHealth CEO @MichaelJDowling on Hospital situation in New York. pic.twitter.com/JGXJahwMBy
— John Berman (@JohnBerman) December 21, 2021
Health officials around the world are recording lower rates of hospitalization amid the omicron wave.
In Wales, the hospitalization of patients is 83% lower than last year.
🚨🚨 Breaking – Continue to see a fall in #Covid19 patients in hospital in Wales – 83% lower than last year
◾️2.5% of General and Acute beds have a confirmed Covid-19 patient
◾️2.0% have recovering Covid patients
◾️83.7% have non Covid patients
◾️11.5% beds unoccupied pic.twitter.com/TeWN9YYt2R
— Jamie Jenkins (@statsjamie) December 22, 2021
Researchers at Cambridge University and the University of Hong Kong found omicron appears less efficient at infecting cells in the deep part of the lungs, which can lead to severe illness. The disease is manifesting mostly in the upper respiratory tract, the studies find, with symptoms more like the common cold.
The inventor of the mRNA technology behind the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines told WND in an interview Monday that the early data indicate omicron could act similarly to a vaccine, producing mild symptoms and natural immunity to COVID-19 as it rapidly spreads.
On Monday, the CDC said the omicron variant has become the dominant strain of the coronavirus in the United States, comprising up to 73.2% of new infections last week, spiking from 12.6% the previous week. Omicron accounts for about 90% of new COVID infections in some areas of the country, including the New York City area, the industrial Midwest, Southeast and the Pacific Northwest.
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