Omicron less severe even for unvaccinated, South African study shows

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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.”

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