The Omicron variant has caused alarm particularly in the U.S., where it is now said to account for most of the new recorded cases of COVID. But new research suggests that the highly transmissible variant is less likely to result in hospitalizations among those who get it as compared to previous variants.
Bloomberg reported that South Africans contracting COVID are "80% less likely to be hospitalized if they catch the omicron variant, compared with other strains," a new study from the National Institute for Communicable Diseases showed. Researchers led by scientists Nicole Walter and Cheryl Cohen reported that once Omicron patients were admitted to the hospital, the risk of severe disease did not differ from other variants such as Delta.
But researchers found that compared to Delta infections in South Africa in April to November, Omicron infections showed a 70% lower risk of severe disease. Data for Omicron was collected in the span of two months through November, The Gateway Pundit reported.
On Monday, the Omicron variant made headlines once again when it reportedly claimed the life of an unvaccinated man in Harris County, Texas. He was immediately labeled by the mainstream media as the "first in America to die from the Omicron variant." But health authorities in Texas believe otherwise.
According to The Blaze, Harris County public health officials did not say that the patient died from the Omicron variant of COVID. Rather, he died after testing positive for the Omicron variant. In fact, Harris County Public Health Department spokesperson Martha Marquez confirmed this.
"We can't confirm that the patient [died] from COVID, but we can say that he was Omicron-positive at the time of his death," Marquez clarified. "This information comes from our epidemiologists, who are the ones who get the reports. They have to do a very meticulous investigation, because, you know, they do take this very much at heart."
"They are telling me that they cannot say that COVID was the absolute cause of death," Marquez confirmed.
Harris County public health officials said that the man had "underlying conditions," a state which so many more other COVID deaths have been attributed to. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that up to 95% or more COVID deaths have occurred in those who have comorbidities or other underlying conditions or diseases.
"There were co-morbidities or other conditions listed on the death certificate for as many as 95% of all COVID-19 deaths," the CDC said.
On Wednesday, Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky confirmed that Omicron is now accounting for more than 73% of new COVID cases in the United States as of Saturday, CNBC reported. Meanwhile, it accounts for up to 90% of new cases in the eastern Atlantic states, some parts of the Midwest, and South and northern Pacific states. Dr. Walensky said that this spread in the U.S. is consistent with what is occurring across the world.
Forbes reported that South Dakota became the 50th U.S. state to identify an Omicron variant case on Wednesday. In places such as Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska, there were a combined 96.3% of infections attributed to Omicron, which is responsible for up to 95.2% of cases in eight southern states. Three other regions recorded more than 90% of the total and these were Ohio and five other upper midwestern states with 92.3%, Texas and its four border states with 92.1%, and New York and New Jersey alongside Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands with 92%.