Study: Patients with Omicron 80% less likely to be hospitalized compared to patients of other variants

Earlier today, Pioneer Press reported that the Omicron variant might be dominating new cases in Minnesota.

Minnesota health officials said Wednesday they believe the new, more contagious omicron variant of the coronavirus to be the dominant strain infecting people across the state.

Cases of omicron, which are identified through genetic sequencing, increased nine-fold since last week. So far, there are now 65 confirmed cases of the new variant, up from just seven a week ago, according to the latest variant report from the Minnesota Department of Health.

“We suspect that Omicron has been spreading rapidly in the state since early December, with cases likely doubling in a matter of days,” Doug Schultz, a health department spokesman said in an email.

“We continue to do sequencing and track variant cases, but it’s important to remember that confirmed numbers reflect only a portion of all positive cases and are an undercount of what is actually circulating in the state,” Schultz said.

All but 10 of the identified omicron cases are in the Twin Cities metro. The omicron variant has been found in 11 Minnesota counties.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday omicron is responsible for 73 percent of new infections nationwide.

Due to Omicron’s high rates of transmission, this may be a cause for concern. However, as I wrote before, a lot of evidence seems to indicate that Omicron is associated with low hospitalization rates.

Just recently, a new study from South Africa found that “people diagnosed with Omicron in South Africa between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 were 80% less likely to be admitted to hospital than those diagnosed with another variant in the same period.”

Additionally, “People who were hospitalised with Omicron in October-November were 70% less likely to develop severe disease than those admitted with Delta between April and November.”

Data from other countries like England and Scotland seem to corroborate these findings, showing that patients diagnosed with Omicron do have a lower rate of hospitalization. The study in Scotland, for example, find that “Omicron is associated with a two-thirds reduction
in the risk of COVID-19 hospitalisation when compared to Delta.”

Certainly, there is still a lot of uncertainty surrounding the virus. But for Minnesotans, especially those at high risk of hospitalization and death from COVID-19, Omicron dominating new cases may be good news.