Omicron leads to much shorter hospital stays, Californian study finds


Omicron patients spend much less time in hospital compared to those infected with delta, according to a major new Californian study.

The preprint, which has not yet been peer-reviewed, analysed nearly 70,000 Covid patients across southern California infected in December – including roughly 52,000 infected with the highly mutated omicron variant.

Researchers found the risk of hospitalisation was cut in half, with 0.5 per cent of patients with omicron admitted compared to 1.3 per cent of those with delta (235 and 222 people respectively). This chimes with previous findings from the UK, South Africa and Denmark.

In the California study, the median duration of a hospital stay for those with omicron was also 3.4 days shorter than those admitted with delta – reflecting almost a 70 per cent reduction in the length of stay.

Dr Joseph Lewnard, an epidemiologist at the University of California, Berkeley and co-author of the study, described the reduction as “striking” in a Twitter thread.

“We identified substantially reduced risk of severe clinical outcomes among patients with presumed omicron variant infections,” the authors added in the preprint, published on medRxiv.

“Omicron variant infections were associated with 52 per cent, 53 per cent, 74 per cent, and 91 per cent reductions in risk of any subsequent hospitalisation, symptomatic hospitalisation, ICU admission, and mortality, relative to delta variant infections,” they said.

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