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Omicron may be as severe as other COVID-19 variants, new study says

Omicron was thought to be less severe than previous waves of COVID-19, but new research is finding that this claim may not be true

SHARE Omicron may be as severe as other COVID-19 variants, new study says
An illustration of the omicron variant.

Illustration by Michelle Budge, Deseret News

The omicron variant of COVID-19 has been reported as more transmissible, but overall less severe than previous COVID-19 variants. However, data from a study under peer-review in Nature Communications puts this claim under question, showing that omicron may be as severe as previous variants.

The news: “Our analysis suggests that the intrinsic severity of the Omicron variant may be as severe as previous variants,” the report read. The study was done by researchers at Harvard University, Minerva University and Massachusetts General Hospital.

  • Although hospitalization admissions were higher during the delta wave, after adjusting omicron hospitalizations to vaccination rates, researchers “found that the risks of hospitalization and mortality were nearly identical between periods,” the study states.

  • “Omicron seems to have a slightly higher hospitalization risk than the Winter of 20’ - 21’, and slightly lower hospitalization risk than that of Spring 21’,” according to the study.

Where did the data come from? The study pulled data from 130,000 patients who tested positive for COVID-19. Data showed that the hospitalization risk of omicron was less predictable, but just as severe as previous waves.

Limitations to the data: The authors of the study claimed that there could be possible limitations to the data, including the possible underestimation of vaccinated patients, according to Reuters. The total number of infections could be off, due to the fact that the researchers did not use data from people who performed at-home rapid tests.