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by Staff reporter
23 December 2021
Studies find Omicron may lead to milder infection

Studies find Omicron may lead to milder infection

The Omicron variant of coronavirus may lead to a milder infection than Delta, studies have found.

According to early analysis, those with Omicron are less likely to require hospital treatment than those with other variants.

However, there are warnings that the sheer number of cases could still put pressure on the NHS.

Yesterday the UK recorded more than 100,000 cases - the first time this has happened since the pandemic began.

A small study carried out by the University of Edinburgh found fewer people have so far required hospital treatment for Omicron than would have been expected for other variants.

The researchers said they were seeing a roughly two-thirds reduction in the number of those being hospitalised.

Dr Jim McMenamin, the national Covid-19 incident director at Public Health Scotland, described it as a “qualified good news story”.

A South African study has suggested, meanwhile, that people with Omicron are 70-80 per cent less likely to require hospital treatment. 

Speaking to the Today programme on BBC Radio 4, Professor Andrew Hayward, director of University College London's Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care said: “We can reasonably say that amongst mainly young adults, who normally have mild disease anyway, that the severity is reduced compared to Delta and that's reduced by nearly a half in terms of being admitted to hospital...

“What we can't necessarily extrapolate to is what level of reduction in severity we might see in elderly people.

“It's undeniably good news, but we're not out of the danger zone. Maybe we can downgrade this from a hurricane to a very severe storm.”

Responding to the Scottish study, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “This is encouraging early data - hopefully confidence will build as we get more data.

“Key point to remember tho - a smaller % of a much larger number of cases will still put increased pressure on NHS and economy. So we must keep suppressing virus while we complete boosters.”

Yesterday Scotland’s chief medical officer confirmed that primary school-aged children with underlying health conditions will be vaccinated against Covid.

Professor Gregor Smith said the Scottish Government would follow advice issued by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) that children aged five to 11 who are in a clinical risk group or are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed should receive two doses of the Pfizer / BioNTech vaccine.

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