Omicron is milder strain of Covid, Government scientists reportedly set to confirm

Omicron is causing milder disease than the Delta strain of Covid, UK scientists are reportedly set to conclude.

Omicron is believed to be a milder strain of Covid - but a rise in cases is expected to lead to more hospitalisations over the festive season.
Omicron is believed to be a milder strain of Covid - but a rise in cases is expected to lead to more hospitalisations over the festive season.

The Politico London Playbook has reported that the UK Health Security Agency will report findings before Christmas that show more people are likely to have a mild illness with less serious symptoms.

But it is being warned that the highly-transmissible nature of Omicron means large numbers could still end up in hospital.

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When questioned about the report on BBC Radio 4's Today programme, health minister Gillian Keegan said data on the severity of Omicron is “one of the missing pieces” ministers are waiting for.

Asked about the Politico report Ms Keegan said: “Well, that’s one of the missing pieces of data that we’ve been waiting for. We ask for it every day.

“I’m looking forward to receiving it. But we haven’t received that officially yet.”

She added that there is “a lot of uncertainty in the data”.

Politico said the findings from Government scientists are expected to present a mixed picture, "with some positives and some negatives".

The report said: "The best news in the early data is that Britons who fall sick with Omicron are less likely to become severely ill than those who caught Delta. More people are likely to have a mild illness with less serious symptoms — probably in part due to Britain’s large number of vaccinated and previously infected people, and possibly because Omicron may be intrinsically milder.

"The less good news is that while Omicron seems milder overall, the UKHSA has found it is not necessarily mild enough to avoid large numbers of hospitalisations. The experts have found evidence that for those who do become severely ill, there is still a high chance of hospitalisation and death.

"The UKHSA has also confirmed that transmissibility of Omicron is very high, meaning that even though it is milder, infections could rocket to the point large numbers still end up in hospital — essentially negating the reduction in severity."

It added that scientists are due to conclude that booster vaccines "significantly reduce" the chance of both infection and ending up in hospital.

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