Thursday, May 19

New NIPH figures: 39,000 were infected with omicron. How many became seriously ill?

The risk of becoming seriously ill with corona has dropped dramatically. The risk of admission is almost four times lower than when the delta variant dominated.

Queue of cars at the test center at Fornebu on Sunday afternoon with people who want to take a PCR test. Almost everyone who tests positive now has omikron. But what exactly is the risk of becoming seriously ill?

The picture has become clearer with each passing day. Despite daily, new infection records since the New Year, very few are admitted to hospital.

188,000 cases of infection have been reported since 1 January. At the same time, far fewer patients have been admitted than before Christmas, when the delta variant dominated and fewer had received the third vaccine.

On January 24, there were 255 corona-infected patients in hospitals. This is 33 percent fewer patients than at the top level on 17 December.

FHI has now made new calculations of what the risk really is of becoming seriously ill after the omicron variant became dominant.

This is very good news.

What do the numbers show now?

FHI has looked at what happened to about 90,000 people who were infected with delta or omikron from December 6 to January 9.

Subsequently, FHI has checked the figures for other matters. NIPH has taken into account both age, gender, country of birth, county of residence, test date, risk background and vaccination status.

Of, for example, 30,300 people under the age of 44 who were infected with omicron, a total of 25 people were admitted.

If we go deeper into the figures based on age, we see that the proportion who became seriously ill has decreased for both young and old.

Of the omicron-infected in the age group 0–29 years, 0.05 per cent were admitted.

Among the 10,200 between the ages of 30 and 44 who received omicron, 0.14 per cent became seriously ill and hospitalized. It is in this group, and those aged 55–64, that the proportion who are admitted has decreased the most.

The figures show that the risk is still highest for the elderly. But the proportion who were admitted has fallen sharply here as well.

Of the delta-infected over the age of 75, as many as 19.2 per cent were hospitalized. Among the omicron-infected, the proportion was 4.3 per cent.

How much has the risk decreased?

39,524 people were infected with the omicron variant during this period. 91 were hospitalized. It makes up 0.2 percent of those infected.

In comparison, 51,500 people were infected with the delta variant. Of these, 552 were admitted. This corresponds to 1.1 percent.

Adjusted for age, underlying diseases, country of birth and vaccines, anslår FHI now that the risk of hospitalization is reduced by 73 percent with omicron, compared to delta.

This means that the risk of being admitted with the delta variant was 3.7 times higher than with omikron.

Omikron patients also appear to be hospitalized for shorter periods. But here the numbers are still very uncertain since it has been such a short time.

Why is it important?

The biggest and most important question now is to what extent the omikron wave can lead to an overload of hospitals.

The risk calculations play a crucial role when the health authorities are to assess measures in the future.

The number of hospitalized patients is now far lower than FHI’s scenarios have previously estimated.

Although all the strict infection measures from 13 December had been continued, FHI estimated that between 500 and 2500 corona patients could be hospitalized at the turn of the month.

One week before the turn of the month, and despite the fact that both the liquor ban and several other measures have been lifted, hospital numbers are still far lower than before Christmas.

In a press release FHI emphasizes that the sharp reduction in risk does not mean that the overall burden on hospitals can be too great.

If the infection rates are high enough, the flow of the patient can still be large.

– The lower risk of hospitalization related to omicron does not necessarily mean that we expect a reduced burden on the hospital sector. One must also take into account that omicron is more contagious than delta, and that the vaccine effect appears to be lower against omicron, says department director Line Vold in FHI.

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