NEW YORK: According to a study, infection with the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is as dangerous as Delta, Alpha, and other variants that have claimed thousands of lives around the world.
South African scientists discovered Omicron in November of last year. A number of investigations undertaken in the UK, South Africa, Canada, and elsewhere have previously revealed that it is more transmissible than other SARS-CoV-2 variants, but is less severe. It was also said to result in fewer hospitalizations and deaths. Unlike Delta, the highly contagious form affects the upper airways more than the lungs, giving common cold-like symptoms. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that it should not be taken lightly on multiple occasions.
However, the Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School investigation found that the risks of hospitalisation and mortality were "essentially comparable" amongst earlier rounds of Covid-19. The researchers claimed in the pre-print report that "our analysis implies that the intrinsic severity of the Omicron variation may be as severe as prior variants." Despite indications that Omicron had vaccine-evading capabilities, the new study found that immunizations helped protect people from the severe effects of the virus.
The researchers matched state-level vaccination data to quality-controlled electronic health records from a large healthcare system in Massachusetts, which included 13 hospitals. They then conducted a weighted case-control study in over 130,000 Covid patients to examine the risks of hospital admission and mortality across the SARS-CoV-2 waves.
Previous waves appeared to have higher unadjusted rates of hospital admission and mortality than the Omicron period.