It is rather amazing that cold and flu season changed so much when COVID appeared on the scene. It seemed that almost every bug that the people of the world caught was tested to find out if it was the dreaded virus.
The latest version – Omicron – for which, apparently, there is no previous immunity leftover from the versions that came before, appears to be easier on the body with a much lower death rate than its predecessors.
A study has surfaced out of Africa making that claim.
Unvaccinated people infected with the Omicron variant are less likely to fall seriously ill, require hospitalization or die compared to the previous COVID-19 variants, a South African study showed on Friday.
The study, led by the National Institute of Communicable Diseases in the Western Cape region, compared 11,609 patients from the first three COVID-19 waves with 5,144 patients from the new Omicron-driven wave.
It found that 8 percent of patients were hospitalized or died within 14 days of testing positive for COVID during the Omicron wave — compared to the 16.5 percent in the first three waves.
“After adjusting for age, sex, comorbidities, and subdistrict there was a substantially reduced hazard of death in wave four compared to wave three,” the study said.
“The extent of reduction was attenuated when additionally considering prior diagnosed infections and vaccination.”
Even after prior COVID infections were taken into account, the study found there was roughly a 25 percent reduction in severe hospitalization or death with Omicron than the Delta variant.
Meaning that the latest “variant” is really more of a cold than the flu, which the rough version of COVID mimics really rather closely.
The study, which is yet to be peer-reviewed, found about a quarter of the reduced risk of severe disease with Omicron was attributable to characteristics of the virus itself.
“In the Omicron-driven wave, severe COVID-19 outcomes were reduced mostly due to protection conferred by prior infection and/or vaccination, but intrinsically reduced virulence may account for an approximately 25 percent reduced risk of severe hospitalization or death compared to Delta,” researchers said.
How this is known without a control group for the study is anyone’s guess.
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