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UK health agency data indicate Omicron less likely to cause hospitalization

Shoppers are reflected in a window as they walk down Oxford Street in London, on December 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
Shoppers are reflected in a window as they walk down Oxford Street in London, on December 23, 2021. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

LONDON — Britain’s public health agency says preliminary data suggest people with the Omicron variant are between 50 percent and 70% less likely to need hospitalization than those with the Delta strain of the coronavirus.

The UK Health Security Agency findings add to emerging evidence that Omicron produces milder illness than other variants — but also spreads faster and better evades vaccines.

The agency says that based on cases in the UK, an individual with Omicron is estimated to be between 31% and 45% less likely to attend a hospital emergency department compared to Delta, “and 50 to 70% less likely to be admitted to hospital.”

It cautions that the analysis is “preliminary and highly uncertain” because of the small number of Omicron patients in hospitals and the fact that most were in younger age groups. As of December 20, 132 people had been admitted to UK hospitals with confirmed cases of Omicron, of whom 14 — aged between 52 and 96 — died.

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