Opinion

SA and UK hospitalisation data: what it tells us about how deadly omicron is

SA and UK hospitalisation data: what it tells us about how deadly omicron is

This article first appeared on The Conversation.

Recent official South African medical reports and countrywide COVID data have indicated that since early November, when omicron was first detected, COVID cases substantially increased. However, most patients had, at worst, mild symptoms, and cases are now in steep decline. These observations substantially differ from the previous waves, including those attributed to the delta variant.

Reporters also stated that even though vaccinated and unvaccinated people developed the disease in roughly equal numbers, most hospitalised patients were unvaccinated. And although the current South African COVID wave may be coming to an end, South Africa’s omicron wave experiences may follow very similar patterns in other countries.

In contrast to this relatively encouraging news, some recent tweets and localised reports suggest that some hospitals in South Africa have experienced – or are experiencing – increasing numbers of hospitalised patients, with increasing numbers of patients requiring treatment in intensive care units and needing mechanical ventilation – a key indicator of severe COVID.