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Omicron: Data suggests ‘virus is milder’ says expert

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Liberal Democrat MP Layla Moran drew attention to the findings in the House of Commons on Tuesday. The data, shared by health insurer Discovery, draws on a total of 211,000 positive coronavirus cases , allied global 78,000 of which were attributed to the novel Omicron variant. Alarming figures revealed that children are at a higher risk of admission to hospital for complications after infection with Omicron. More heartening data, however, showed that those in younger age groups were 51 percent less likely to test positive during the Omicron wave.

Shirley Collie, chief of health analytics actuary at Discovery Health, reassured that the risk of infection from Omicron will remain low for children during the new wave.

Evidence from South Africa’s Omicron outbreak showed that overall, the risk of hospitalisation is 29 percent lower for the people infected with the new variant, compared to the first wave of the pandemic.

Data revealed that two doses of the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine boosted protection against hospitalisation by 70 percent for those who contracted the variant.

The findings, however, suggested that the BioNTech/Pfizer vaccine only provided 33 percent protection against infection.

READ MORE: Omicron: The ‘initial’ symptom seen in 89% of those infected with the strain – CDC report

This compared to previous data showing 93 percent protection during earlier waves, when the Delta variant was dominant.

The President of the South African Medical Research Council, Glenda Gray, said the findings of the study were encouraging.

She added: “It is extremely important to be able to demonstrate to the public that in real-world setting – in the presence of a highly transmissible new COVID-19 variant – the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine provides good protection against severe disease and hospitalisation.

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