Much higher percentage of Delta Covid cases require hospitalization than Omicron: OMT virologist
With the rise of the Omicron variant in the Netherlands, the Amsterdam University Medical Center has started testing all new Covid-19 patients who show up at the emergency room to determine what coronavirus variant caused their infection. "We are increasingly seeing infections there from Omicron, but also from Delta. It is striking that a significantly higher proportion of Delta patients are actually admitted into regular care wards," said Amsterdam UMC virologist Menno de Jong.
De Jong is also a member of the Outbreak Management Team, which advises the Dutch Cabinet on coronavirus policy. He said Omicron patients in the emergency rooms are less likely to have serious symptoms of Covid-19 which require them to be hospitalized. The hospital has not drawn any firm conclusions about this for the time being.
Noted Belgian virologist Marc Van Ranst also noticed that the vast majority of seriously ill Covid-19 patients at the university hospital in Leuven still have the Delta variant. All patients admitted there also take a coronavirus test. "In patients with no or minor complaints, we see approximately the reflection as it is in society: About 85 percent have Omicron and 15 percent have Delta," says Van Ranst. "This is reversed in patients with more severe complaints. About 80 percent there have the Delta variant."
Van Ranst said it is not yet clear to what extent the Delta variant of the coronavirus will still be present in the future. Several experts believe that the new Omicron variant will completely displace Delta, but that is not yet the case in Belgium even though Omicron has been present there for some time. He thinks that Delta could well continue to exist.
De Jong does expect that the Omicron variant will eventually displace the Delta variant everywhere - including in Belgium. In Amsterdam, the Omicron variant now causes almost 100 percent of all coronavirus infections. The capital may also be ahead of other parts of the Netherlands.
Van Ranst believes it is important to keep a close eye on the two variants. "I had hoped that Delta would be wiped off the table. That is not happening yet, which means that new variants can also share the Delta strain," he fears. "In any case, the good news is that the immunity of the population is increased by vaccinations or by infections."
The virologist is already cautiously looking towards the future. "There will come a time when coronavirus will resemble a flu epidemic. If we get close to something we know, we can abolish the restrictions." For the time being, he thinks the measures that apply in Belgium are sufficient.
Reporting by ANP