Chance of hospitalization with Omicron 40% lower; 13% of current Covid cases reinfections
The chance that people with the Omicron variant of the coronavirus will have to be hospitalized is 40 percent lower than with the Delta variant. About 10 percent of these patients need intensive care, compared to 20 percent with the Delta variant, RIVM director Jaap van Dissel said in a briefing to parliament. He also said that about 13 percent of current Covid-19 cases are reinfections.
The decreased chance of hospitalization is "an important drop," Van Dissel said. People with the Omicron variant also spend less time in hospital, figures in other countries show. There is not enough data on this in the Netherlands yet, but Van Dissel thinks the average comes to five days.
That strengthens the image that Omicron is more contagious than Delta and can bypass antibodies from vaccinations or previous infections. But also that this variant causes less severe symptoms.
The RIVM director stressed that the number of infections with Omicron is much higher than in the Delta wave and that the models assume a higher degree of booster shots. He said at least 3 million people in the Netherlands still need to get the booster shot. He stressed that people should not assume that the extra vaccination is unnecessary because the disease course is less severe in more people.
He expects the Omicron wave to peak in March.
After questions from parliamentarians, Van Dissel also said that the Omicron variant could not be compared to the flu, not even the severe flu wave in the winter of 2017/2018. "That was also a serious situation, but the numbers of infections that are going to come are much higher. That makes the comparison a bit lame," he said, according to NOS. He added that coronavirus patients need hospital care more often than flu patients and often also have other complications. "If you look at the scenario that we are in, it is not exactly the picture of the flu."
One way the two diseases are similar is that we will have to learn to live with Omicron, Van Dissel said. "That also means that the basic rules are all the more important. Then the infections don't all come at the same time, and we can spread it out."
Reporting by ANP and NL Times.