Omicron – how mild?

The cases of the Omicron variant are rising fast.  But we are told it is milder that the Delta variant. 

South Africa Data as of 12th Dec

South Africa’s population is similar to our own. Although there has been an extremely rapid rise in cases in South Africa they are still only half the UK.
Despite the cases in South Africa being half of those in the UK, Hospital admissions are higher than the UK.

The upper two graphs above would suggest that the omicron variant gives rise to a higher hospital admission rate than Delta!  But the two health systems are different.  Perhaps the criteria for hospital admissions is lower in South Africa, or it could be simply that they have more room.  The UK has had around 8000 people in hospital with Covid for the last three months.  

The lower graph shows a death rate of about on fifth of the UK rate. BUT the death rate lags the case rate by 2-3 weeks.  Two weeks earlier the cases rate was only one twentieth of the UK rate. So the omicron variant looks worse than Delta

But many more people in South Africa are unvaccinated.  We do not yet know how effective the vaccines are against Omicron or how long the booster jabs last, but we are fairly sure  they are better than nothing.

Our Delta variant has not gone away.  The Omicron variant will run along side the Delta variant in the UK.  Before Omicron the Delta variant looked like it had peaked and levelled out, but it had not gone away – hence the steady 8000 hospital population. 

The rush to get the booster doses administered, and the increase in restrictions in order to curb the rise of Omicron will also curb Delta.  

But absenteeism due to Covid is governed by infection, not symptoms or variants (yet).  Non symptomatic victims will spread the virus without knowing. Those who get mild symptoms will get tested and isolate.  The economy will be hit hard again doe to lack of critical personnel due to self isolating.

Summary

We know:-

  • Omicron cases are rising extremely rapidly
  • Our hospital and ambulance services are already stretched.
  • the government is losing credibility due to sleaze and stupidity.

We don’t know:-

  • How dangerous the Omicron variant really is
  • How much protection we get from primary vaccinations and boosters
  • How long vaccinations and boosters are effective against Omicron (see 24th Dec update below)

It’s going to be a hard winter.

Update 24th December

It seems the booster dose is good for 10 weeks. That takes us back to mid October!