Covid South Africa: Omicron death rates were just a QUARTER of levels seen in previous surges

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Death rates in South Africa’s Omicron Covid wave were just a QUARTER of levels seen during previous surges as scientists say ultra-infectious variant may ‘usher in endemic phase’

Researchers examined records of 450 patients hospitalised in the City of Tshwane since the extremely-transmissible variant took off in the country. 

Their survival rates were then compared against nearly 4,000 patients hospitalised earlier on in the pandemic.  

Just 4.5 per cent of patients hospitalised with Covid in the last month died from the virus. For comparison, the rate stood at around 21.3 per cent earlier in the pandemic.

The findings, in the International Journal of Infectious Diseases, also revealed ICU admissions were a quarter of the rate seen in previous waves, and patients’ average hospital stay was halved. 

The City of Tshwane is an authority situated in Gauteng — the first province to fall victim to Omicron. 

Cases of Covid in South Africa are continuing to fall, as the wave caused by Omicron appears to burn itself out. The country, which was one of the first in the world to fall victim to Omicron, hit its peak in the seven days to December 17, when an average of 23,437 cases were recorded. But by Monday, the number had plummeted by 38 per cent to 14,390 cases

Scientists behind the research said it shows ‘a decoupling of cases, hospitalisations and deaths compared to previous waves’. 

Omicron could be a ‘harbinger of the end’ of the darkest days of the pandemic and could usher in the virus’s endemic phase, the team wrote. 

Patients involved in the latest study were, however, much younger, which may have skewed the results.

But the academics, from South Africa’s National Institute of Communicable Diseases (NICD) and the University of Pretoria, aren’t the first to show the virus is milder.

Other real-world studies from the UK and South Africa already reported that patients who catch the strain are up to 80 per cent less likely to be hospitalised.

But the new study is the first major examination of Omicron death data. 

It also showed just one per cent of people were moved to intensive care, compared to 4.3 per cent in earlier waves.

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