Epidemiologists were anxious as they awaited the next batch of data about the omicron variant, but already it's pretty clear that the number of hospitalizations from the so-called "omicron wave" is far below the level from earlier waves, including last year's winter wave.
As Bloomberg reports, the seven-day average of new cases in the US hit 206,577 on Sunday, roughly 18% lower than the all-time high recorded on Jan. 11... Meanwhile, hospitalizations rose to a seven-day average of 8,964, only half their earlier peak.
“We are seeing exponential increases in cases, and a much lower increase in hospitalizations and deaths,” said Albert Ko, chair of the department of epidemiology and microbial diseases at the Yale School of Public Health.
And it's not just in the US: London has also seen lower hospitalization numbers during its latest wave, as data shared by Dr. Scott Gottlieb show.
London and New York City: New Covid cases and New Covid Hospitalizations - #Omicron versus prior waves. On a relative basis, Hospitalizations are well below what was seen in prior Covid waves. pic.twitter.com/FaUyySGuLO— Scott Gottlieb, MD (@ScottGottliebMD) December 28, 2021
This isn't exactly a shocker: three studies published last week show that hospitalization rates for omicron have been far lower than with previous strains.
Scientists even attempted to determine exactly how much of the decline in hospitalization rates has been due to growing levels of natural immunity; and even when patients do end up in the hospital with omicron, they appear to spend less time there.
On a relative basis, Hospitalizations are well below what was seen in prior Covid waves.
“It appears there is less risk of hospitalized disease across the board, but we have to be a little bit careful about interpreting that,” said Jeffrey Morris, professor and director of the biostatistics division at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine.
And that's not the only new piece of data that might help put the public's mind at ease:
The most recent spike was purely "technical" in nature.
1/7— Jim Bianco biancoresearch.eth (@biancoresearch) December 28, 2021
On Monday the number of COVID cases in the U.S. spiked as labs reopened after the holiday. While this is more a technical spike due to labs catching up from previous days, the seven-day moving average is on the verge of making a new high. pic.twitter.com/KrD9gM4lqM
Still, 2MM Americans have been confirmed infected in recent weeks, sending the effective unemployment rate surging.
3/7— Jim Bianco biancoresearch.eth (@biancoresearch) December 28, 2021
This chart shows 2.04M tested positive in the past 10-days. If we assume 75% are in the workforce (few under 18 test positive), then 1.04% of the workforce is currently “out” with a positive test.
So, the effective unemployment rate just spiked 1.04% in the last 10-days. pic.twitter.com/67ZvkPHoDk
But it wouldn't be Xmas without the Grinch, and unfortunately for those who believe the peak of this latest wave might be right around the corner, Bianco's research suggests otherwise:
7/7— Jim Bianco biancoresearch.eth (@biancoresearch) December 28, 2021
Europe has been struggling with tens of millions of lost workdays as their positives surge and surge and it has still have not peaked.
Many think US positives will peak in the next 2- to 3-weeks ... this has not been the case in Europe, and the US is ~6-WEEKS behind them. pic.twitter.com/KdmZ82xuNd
If Europe's path is followed by US, we still have six more weeks before this exponential wave peaks.