Omicron as Severe as Previous COVID Variants, Large Study Finds

Omicron as Severe as Previous COVID Variants, Large Study Finds

(Reuters) – The Omicron variant of the SARS-CoV2 virus is as intrinsically severe as previous variants, a new analysis of Massachusettes cases has found, contradicting previous studies characterizing it as more transmissible but less severe.

“We found that the risks of hospitalization and mortality were nearly identical between periods,” said four scientists who conducted the study based on records of 130,000 COVID-19 patients during periods in the past two years when different variants were dominant across the world.

The weighted case-control study, posted on Research Square and under review at a Nature Portfolio journal, adjusted for confounders including demographics, vaccination status, and Charlson comorbidity index of patients in a large healthcare system that includes 13 hospitals.

The study found no differences in the risks of hospitalization and mortality between periods, suggesting that Omicron infection is just as severe as with previous variants.

Research that found the Omicron variant was less severe includes studies from South Africa, Scotland, England, and Canada, the authors from Massachusetts General Hospital, Minerva University and Harvard Medical School, note in their report.

Among the current study’s limitations, they write, are the possibility that it underestimates the number of vaccinated patients in more recent COVID waves, and the total number of infections, because it excludes patients who performed at-home rapid tests.

SOURCE: Research Square, online May 2, 2022.

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