THE RISK of hospital admission from Omicron is less likely than previous strains of Covid-19, Government public health experts have said.
In the latest analysis by the UK Health Security Agency, it appears an individual with Omicron is estimated to be between 31 and 45% less likely to attend A&E compared to the previous dominant strain Delta.
Furthermore, 50 to 70% are less likely to be admitted to hospital.
However, experts have warned that although early suggestions are that individuals may be less likely to require hospitalisation, many more people are likely to become infected.
Caution is therefore still being advised as even if a smaller proportion of people are hospitalised, there are still large numbers of people requiring hospital care, putting pressure on the NHS.
UK Health Secretary Sajid Javid described the latest data as “promising” but urged the public to remain cautious over the festive period.
“We know boosters offer significant protection against the variant and early evidence suggests this strain may be less severe than Delta,” he said.
“However, cases of the variant continue to rise at an extraordinary rate – already surpassing the record daily number in the pandemic. Hospital admissions are increasing, and we cannot risk the NHS being overwhelmed.
“This is early-stage analysis and we continue to monitor the data hour by hour. It is still too early to determine next steps.”
The results of the research are consistent with that of two other early studies into Omicron by Imperial College London and the University of Edinburgh, both released on Wednesday.
Omicron is believed to be infecting more people who have previously had Covid, with 9.5% of people with Omicron having had it before.
That fits with daily the high number of cases currently being recorded in Scotland and the UK.
Scottish Government figures released on Thursday indicated 674 people have tested positive for the new strain.
It brings the total number of Omicron cases to 2,326, as cases of the new variant have nearly doubled within a 24-hour period.
Vaccination is also believed to give less protection against Omicron, although a booster jab provides more protection against symptomatic disease compared with the first two doses alone.
Data suggests protection starts to wane 10 weeks after booster vaccination.
Dr Jenny Harries, UKHSA Chief Executive, said: “Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people who contract the Omicron variant may be at a relatively lower risk of hospitalisation than those who contract other variants.
“However, it should be noted both that this is early data and more research is required to confirm these findings.
“Cases are currently very high in the UK, and even a relatively low proportion requiring hospitalisation could result in a significant number of people becoming seriously ill.”