The disease that the omicron variant of COVID-19 causes is milder than that caused by the delta variant, according to a leaked British government study.
The United Kingdom Health Security Agency, which is the British equivalent of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will publish its early real-world data on the disease’s severity before Dec. 25, Politico reported.
The Health Security Agency stated in the study that most individuals who contract an illness from the new variant will likely develop a mild one, according to Politico.
This is, in part, because a large number of individuals in Great Britain are either vaccinated or have been previously infected with COVID-19, and also partly because omicron might be milder, according to the leaked study.
The mildness of the disease, however, doesn’t necessarily mean that it will not lead to the hospitalization of a large number of people, the Health Security Agency cautioned.
The disease, according to the UKHSA, still has high transmissibility, and those who contract a severe illness as a result of it have a high probability of getting hospitalized.
With that said, the findings of the UKHSA report lend support to U.S. President Joe Biden’s Tuesday assurance that vaccinated Americans could take part in Christmas festivities without much worry, the U.K.’s Daily Mail reported.
• And there may also be some innate reduction in severity at work here (but we don’t know yet) https://t.co/6nyXo0q4kF
— John Burn-Murdoch (@jburnmurdoch) December 21, 2021
A preprint research paper — not yet peer-reviewed and released Tuesday by South African researchers — arrived at a similar conclusion to that reached by the U.K. government report expected to be released before Christmas.
“Our findings correlate with DATCOV surveillance hospitalisation data showing that, among patients who had a known hospital outcome, 32% of COVID-19 admissions during the early fourth wave were severe compared to 65% during the early third wave,” the researchers wrote in their paper, “Early assessment of the clinical severity of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant in South Africa.”
“Our finding of no difference in severity in SGTF compared to non-SGTF infected individuals in the same time period, and the lower risk of severity in SGTF compared to earlier Delta infected individuals, suggests that this reduced severity may be in part a result of high levels of population immunity,” the researchers stated.
According to CDC data, omicron is now the dominant COVID-19 strain in the United States, representing around 73 percent of the cases sequenced in the country.
The new variant has displaced the once-dominant delta strain, which now only represents 26.6 percent of American COVID-19 cases, CDC data shows.
On Tuesday, the Biden White House announced several initiatives intended to thwart the spread of omicron across the country.
These initiatives include policies aimed at increasing support for hospitals, widening access to free COVID-19 testing and expanding vaccination capacity.
“We know how to protect people from severe illness, we have the tools needed to do it, and thanks to the President’s Winter Plan, we are ready,” the White House said in a statement.
As of Wednesday, the United States has witnessed 51,115,304 COVID-19 cases in total since the pandemic’s start, according to the CDC. This number has risen in the last 30 days, CDC data shows.
Over 805,000 people have died due to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, according to the CDC, and 77.2 percent of the population over 5 years old has received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine.