Patients infected with the omicron variant of the coronavirus have a lower risk of hospitalization compared to those who contracted the delta variant, and are significantly less likely to develop severe symptoms.
In a study by the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA), patients testing positive for omicron are 50% – 70% less likely to be admitted to the hospital and 30% – 45% less likely to go to emergency rooms.
The UKHSA analysis mirrored those by Public Health Scotland and Imperial College London on Wednesday which also found omicron to be milder than previously thought when compared to the delta variant.
Despite the positive outlook, UKHSA revealed that the effect of booster jabs in protecting against the new variant is waning in some patients.
The efficacy of the jab in preventing symptomatic disease 10 weeks after it was administrated dropped 15% and now stands at 25%.
Studies by the health agency were based on those younger than 40 and have the highest rates of omicron infection.
The new variant is still not as common in those aged 60 and older and who are more likely to develop severe symptoms from the virus.
The agency said more studies and tests will be needed to arrive at a more credible and representative conclusion.
Despite the waning efficacy of the booster jabs, the majority of those who are at high risk have received their booster jabs a little more than two months ago and UKHSA believes booster protection still offers longer lasting defenses against the variant.
Health experts have warned, however, that milder variants will still cause infections to increase which will inevitably result in higher hospital admissions.
On Thursday, 119,789 people tested positive for the virus. In the week beginning Dec. 17, a total of 678,165 people had a confirmed positive test result, representing a 53.3% increase compared to the previous week.
There were 147 reported deaths and 784 fatalities reported within one month of testing positive for the virus — a 2.4% decrease when compared to the previous week.
The number of people who received their first dose of the vaccine was 51,617,091 with 47,210,053 receiving their second by the end of Wednesday.