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Covid-19: Early studies give hope omicron is milder than other variants

BMJ 2021; 375 doi: (Published 23 December 2021) Cite this as: BMJ 2021;375:n3144
  1. Bryan Christie
  1. Edinburgh

Optimism is growing that the increasingly dominant omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 may produce less severe disease than previous strains, after the findings of three early studies into the outcome of infection with the variant.

Researchers in England, Scotland, and South Africa have found the risk of admission to hospital to be between 15% and 80% lower with omicron than the delta variant. The findings have not been peer reviewed, and all three studies accept limitations in the research, but the unanimity of the findings has been welcomed. “In my view, there is now solid reason to favour a more optimistic outcome of omicron in the UK than was feared,” said James Naismith, director of the Rosalind Franklin Institute at the University of Oxford.

Scientists at Imperial College London estimated that people infected with omicron were 15-20% less likely to attend hospital overall and 40-45% less likely to be admitted for a night than …

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