South African study: Omicron may be less virulent than Delta

Johannesburg, Jan 14 (EFE).- A study carried out in South Africa’s Western Cape region indicates that the Omicron variant of Covid-19 may be less likely than Delta to cause severe illness even in unvaccinated people.

“In the Omicron-driven wave, severe COVID-19 outcomes were reduced mostly due to protection conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination,” the National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) said in a summary of the findings.

“But intrinsically reduced virulence may account for an approximately 25 percent reduced risk of severe hospitalization or death compared to Delta,” the NICD said.

The results of the study, which is awaiting peer review, are consistent with previous research from various countries showing that Omicron – while significantly more contagious – is less lethal in Delta.

South Africa, where Omicron was first detected, leads the continent with more than 93,000 deaths from Covid-19 and 3.5 million confirmed cases.

NICD scientists compared the case histories of some 11,600 patients from the first three coronavirus waves with those of around 5,100 people who became in the wave that began in November with the emergence of Omicron.

Fewer than 30 percent of eligible South Africans have had both doses of Covid-19 vaccine. EFE jhb-lbg/dr

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