Nicholas Davies, assistant professor of mathematical modeling at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, warned that the report mainly covered a mix of younger patients. “The Omicron wave starts with the youngest,” he said in an interview. “It is important to keep in mind that we do not yet have a lot of data on the risks in the elderly.”
But he added that the results were still encouraging, saying: “It seems people are experiencing less severe results. “
Health officials have noted that Omicron presents a challenge due to the speed at which it moves through audiences. The vaccines are less effective at preventing infections than was the case with other variants, the results show.
“The efficacy of the vaccine against symptomatic diseases with the Omicron variant is significantly lower than that of the Delta variant and decreases rapidly,” according to the report. “Nonetheless, the protection against hospitalization is much better than that against symptomatic disease, especially after a booster dose, where the efficacy of the vaccine against hospitalization is close to 90%.
The findings help explain why there has not been a surge of patients rushed to hospital even as the number of infections in England has surpassed any previous wave.
Peter Openshaw, a member of the UK advisory group on new and emerging respiratory virus threats, said on Friday that transmission of the new variant requires only low exposure.
“Omicron is so contagious,” Mr Openshaw told the BBC. “We’re really lucky it wasn’t so contagious when it first passed to human-to-human transmission. It almost only takes one puff of infected breath and you could be infected. “