Health experts for days have been warning that the new and highly mutated Omicron coronavirus variant is rapidly spreading both across the United States and much of the world, but there finally appears to be good news for pandemic-weary Americans.
According to White House chief medical advisor Dr. Anthony Fauci, there is now a fast-growing body of evidence that indicates Omicron is less severe than the Delta strain—but he did caution hospitals could be pushed to the limit as the country continues to grapple with record-setting new infections.
“Multiple sources of now-preliminary data indicate a decrease severity with Omicron,” the nation’s top infectious disease expert said during a White House COVID update on Wednesday.
“However, we really do need more definitive assessment of severity with longer-term follow up here and in different countries,” he continued.
Fauci cited two particular studies. One from Canada showed that the risk of hospitalization or death was sixty-five percent lower among individuals infected with Omicron compared to those who had Delta. Moreover, the risk of admission to an intensive care unit or death from Omicron was eighty-three percent less.
The other study from South Africa revealed that roughly five percent of infections during the Omicron-driven wave resulted in hospital admission, while during the Delta wave, it was fourteen percent. Furthermore, patients admitted to the hospital during the Omicron wave were found to be seventy-three percent less likely to have severe disease.