Preliminary data from a South African study that analyzed the severity of the COVID-19 omicron variant indicates a possible less likelihood of hospitalization and severe illness than with other variants.
A preprint of the study, which has yet to receive certification by peer review, indicates that individuals with S Gene Target Failure (SGTF) – which is an indicator that presumes omicron infection – were 80% less likely to require hospitalization once infected, and even once in the hospital were 70% less likely to develop severe illness than did someone with the delta variant.
The study noted that "some of this reduction is likely a result of high population immunity."
Researchers examined links between SARS-CoV-2 lab tests, COVID-19 case data, genome data, and the DATCOV national hospital surveillance system for the country examining individuals diagnosed between Oct. 1 and Nov. 30 of this year.
They then compared the data to delta variant infections diagnosed between April and Nov. 2021.
Infections included individuals with COVID-19 symptoms, those who acquired infection in a hospital, and those who tested positive when admitted for another reason.
The study also controlled for factors that contribute to differing levels of severity, including age, co-morbidities, sex, province, and healthcare sector.
South Africa’s median age is 27.6 years old, according to data from Worldometer.
The study resulted from a collaboration between the University of Witwatersrand’s School of Pathology, the National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) of the National Health Laboratory Service, the University of KwaZulu-Natal’s School of Health Sciences, National Health Laboratory Service (NHLS), and Lancet Laboratories.