Omicron more resistant to Pfizer shot but causes milder infections, real-world data shows

Preliminary real-world data from South Africa suggests the omicron variant is more resistant to Pfizer's vaccine but causes less severe infections, The Washington Post reported Dec. 14. 

Discovery Health — South Africa's largest health insurer — conducted the study, which has not been peer reviewed. The analysis included data on 211,000 COVID-19 cases, 78,000 of which involved the omicron variant. 

Adults with COVID-19 had a 29 percent lower risk of hospitalization than during the country's first wave in March 2020.

The vaccine was just 33 percent effective at preventing infections from omicron but 70 percent effective at preventing hospitalization in fully vaccinated people.  

New COVID-19 cases have also risen in the country much faster than during previous surges, according to Ryan Noach, CEO of Discovery Health.

"National data show an exponential increase in both new infections and test positivity rates during the first three weeks of this wave, indicating a highly transmissible variant with rapid community spread of infection," he told the Post

In research slides shared on Twitter, Discovery Health said data only covers the first three weeks of the country's omicron outbreak and could change as the wave continues. Omicron now accounts for about 90 percent of infections in the country. 


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