Britons who fall ill with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus are less likely to become severely sick than those who contract Delta, U.K. government scientists are set to say in early real-world data on the severity of the disease.
But while Omicron cases in the U.K. seem milder overall, the U.K. Health Security Agency (UKHSA) has found it is not necessarily mild enough to avoid large numbers of hospitalizations, according to the data, which is due to be published before Christmas and was previewed by TheTeCHyWorLD’s London Playbook.
The UKHSA found evidence that for those who do become severely ill with Omicron, there is still a high chance of hospitalization and death. The scientists also confirmed that the transmissibility of Omicron is very high, meaning that even though it is milder, infections could rocket to the point large numbers could still end up in hospital.
The UKHSA is also expected to conclude that while two doses of a COVID vaccine are not enough to offer strong protection against Omicron, a booster dose does significantly reduce the chance of both symptomatic infection and hospitalization, London Playbook reported. A UKHSA spokesperson said they would not comment on unpublished data.
U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Tuesday there was still “uncertainty” on exactly how severe Omicron is, and how this impacts the hospitalization rate, but said England will not face any further COVID-19 restrictions before Christmas.
Separately, the British government said it was reducing the COVID-19 self-isolation period to seven days from 10 days for people in England who get a negative result on a lateral flow test two days in a row, Reuters reported. The move seeks to ease pressures on essential services, with staffing hit by illness and workers having to isolate after contact with another person who has caught COVID-19.