Since mid-November, the Omicron variant has affected multiple countries across the world. However, as of December 13, 2021, only 43 people in the United States have been diagnosed with the Omicron variant of COVID-19. Worldwide, only one person has died from the latest variant of the Coronavirus.
NBC News is reporting that earlier this week, the first major world study on the Omicron variant of COVID-19 found that not only is the variant causing less severe symptoms, but that the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine is less effective in protecting those who have had the vaccine.
Discovery Health, who is South Africa’s largest health insurer, conducted the study. The study followed 78,000 patients who had been diagnosed with the omicron variant. However, a correction from the insurer said that of the 78,000 “19,070 tests were positive during the Omicron period.” The spokesperson for Discovery Health related that this did not change the calculations.
It should be noted that even the WHO has released a statement revealing that the vaccine seems to have lesser effect in preventing the omicron variant of the COVID-19 virus.
Ryan Noach, the chief executive for Discovery Health, related that the study should be taken with a bit of caution as the omicron variant is still in “early stages” and that hospitalizations could sharply increase as the variant evolves. Some experts are reporting that there are multiple mutations of the Omicron variant, although there is no evidence to this statement.
The study was carried out in South Africa, and the country’s larges healthcare administrator released this information. The study showed that, on average, up to 29 percent fewer of those diagnosed with the variant are being admitted to the hospital; this is in comparison to those who were hospitalized with the Delta variant.
The Pfizer vaccination with its two doses provided 90 percent protection from the Delta variant, but the same administration only protects those vaccinated from Omicron at about 70 percent.
According to experts reviewing the study, it is still too early to determine whether these findings are good or bad. They mentioned that it may not be the purported mildness of Omicron that is resulting in the lower hospitalization numbers, but that it may be the fact that many of South Africa’s younger population has already had a form of COVID-19, and they may have gained some natural immunity to the virus and its variants.
However, the vaccine manufacturers themselves have released data regarding the effectiveness of the Pfizer regimen; their data shows a reduced effectiveness against Omicron. Their information has also shown that the Omicron variant is more transmissible than previous forms of the COVID-19 virus and its variations.
However, this data did little to stop policymakers in America and in Europe in setting up travel restrictions and increasing restrictions on group gatherings and entertainment.
Just after Thanksgiving, President Biden announced a travel ban from seven South African countries. Europe did something similar. However, not twenty-four hours after the ban was enacted in America, the first case of the Omicron virus was reported in the United States.