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Studies Confirm Omicron is Mild

AP Photo/Elaine Thompson

While the Biden administration may have no problem causing panic when it comes to the Wuhan coronavirus and the now dominant Omicron variant, what data is available so far is promising. From what we're seeing, and it's important to note it may still be a bit early, the Omicron variant is "mild" and leads to less hospitalizations and death. This is especially in comparison to the Delta variant, which was previously the dominant strain.

It's worth noting that we have been covering from the start how "mild" these cases are, especially when it comes to people who are vaccinated. This comes from the medical experts on the ground in South Africa, where Omicron was first announced. On November 26, the World Health Organization (WHO) declared it a "variant of concern."

Data from South Africa looks good too, in that a report from the South African Medical Research Council to do with "Tshwane District Omicron Variant Patient Profile - Early Features" mentioned, among other things, that most of the hospital cases were "incidental," meaning the admissions were for other reasons besides the person having COVID. 

The latest news, which appears to come from Andrew Meldrum with Associated Press, is that "Case drop may show South Africa’s omicron peak has passed." One of the most read articles in the "World" section for The Washington Post is Max Bearak's article, "South Africa’s huge omicron wave appears to be subsiding just as quickly as it grew."

Is it important to remind everyone that the variant was only announced about a month ago, and that it may still be early? Sure. Does that mean we shouldn't be cautiously optimistic? No, even though that's what the powers that be, such as Dr. Anthony Fauci, might prefer.

Even Dr. Fauci has acknowledged we don't know for sure what Omicron will do, though he's instead going down the full-blown panic mode of expecting the worst, without seeming at all willing to hope for the best, when it comes to what we may or may not know yet.

Dr. Fauci's concern is that the variant has a concerning level of mutations and is particularly easy to spread. Again, though, it appears to be "mild."

There's also news out of the United Kingdom that looks promising. As William Booth reported for The Washington Post, "Real-world data from U.K. suggests omicron is less likely than delta to send people to the hospital." 

Booth's reporting mentions that:

The study, which has not yet been peer reviewed, found that people infected with the omicron variant were almost 60?percent less likely to enter the hospital than those infected with delta, the globally dominant variant that is being eclipsed rapidly.

The Scottish scientists said that recently vaccinated people appear to have some protection against symptomatic infection from omicron but less so than against delta. A third dose or booster of an mRNA vaccine was associated with a 57?percent reduction in the odds of developing symptomatic covid-19. Boosters gave better protection against the delta variant — more than 80?percent.

The researchers estimated the potential for reinfection is 10 times more likely with omicron than with delta.

The numbers they were working with were small but statistically significant, they said — if omicron acted the same as delta, they would expect 47 people to have been admitted to hospital so far. Currently, there are only 15.

The scientists said there were not enough omicron infections and hospitalizations among those over 60 years to reach confident conclusions, but they expected the overall trend would hold.

The evidence that omicron was causing less severe illness in England came out of Imperial College London.

That group, led by Neil Ferguson, reported that those infected by omicron were 15 to 20?percent less likely to go to an emergency room with severe symptoms and 40?percent less likely to be hospitalized overnight, when compared with those infected by delta.

And, as James Gallagher reported for the BBC, "Omicron up to 70% less likely to need hospital care."

While hospital admissions and cases are up in the United Kingdom, the variant spreads so rapidly and infects more people. 

As Gallagher explains:

People catching Omicron are 50% to 70% less likely to need hospital care compared with previous variants, a major analysis says.

The UK Health Security Agency says its early findings are "encouraging" but the variant could still lead to large numbers of people in hospital.

...

The report comes hot on the heels of data from South Africa, Denmark, England and Scotland which all pointed to reduced severity.

...

Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of the UKHSA, said: "Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people who contract the Omicron variant may be at a relatively lower risk of hospitalisation than those who contract other variants.

"Cases are currently very high in the UK, and even a relatively low proportion requiring hospitalisation could result in a significant number of people becoming seriously ill."

Omicron is thought to be milder due to a combination of our immunity and changes to the virus itself.

The variant is mostly infecting people who have been infected with other variants before or who have been vaccinated. Both give the immune system a head start.

However, laboratory studies have also shown changes in how Omicron infects our bodies. It is better at infecting our airways rather than the deep tissues of the lungs - this could make it easier for the variant to spread, but milder as it is further away from the delicate parts of the lungs.

In the United States, certain hotspots, like New York City, are seeing their highest amount of tests and cases. It also appears as if there has been a death related to Omicron. However, as Matt mentioned, there's confusion as to if the man, who was in his 50s, unvaccinated, and had had COVID previously, died with it or from it.

The headlines are equally encouraging in the United States. Reporting here focuses on how omicron is now the dominant variant. But, a lot of mainstream media outlets--for outlets and on networks--have given into panicking. Tom Shillue, while guest hosting for Greg Gutfeld on Wednesday's episode of "Gutfeld!" on Fox News Channel, delved into this with his monologue, providing a montage of examples.

If what we know so far about Omicron holds, specifically how "mild" it is, we should be so lucky that it replaces 

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