| 19 April 2024, Friday |

South Korea says omicron COVID-19 variant 75 percent less likely to kill than delta

According to real-world statistics provided on Monday by South Korea’s health officials, people infected with the omicron coronavirus variety are approximately 75% less likely to suffer serious illness or die than those infected with the delta form.

The severity and fatality rates for the omicron variation were 0.38 percent and 0.18 percent, respectively, according to a study by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) of 67,200 illnesses verified since December, compared to 1.4 percent and 0.7 percent for the delta cases.

People who were hospitalized in intensive care units were classified as serious cases by the KDCA.

According to the study, 56 percent of the 1,073 people who died in the previous five weeks were either unvaccinated or had only received one shot, with people aged 60 and older accounting for 94 percent of deaths.

Over 86 percent of South Korea’s 52 million people have had two vaccinations, with approximately 60 percent receiving a booster dose.

Due to comprehensive social distancing measures and aggressive testing and tracing, South Korea had kept cases and deaths to a bare minimum.

The omicron form has resulted in an increase in cases – daily new infections reached 100,000 for the first-time last week – but officials have moved on with loosening social distance rules, citing the decreased death rate and the upcoming presidential election.

To free up medical resources, contact tracing and mandated isolation for vaccinated people were dropped in favor of self-diagnosis and at-home treatment. Restaurants will be open for an extra hour for groups of up to eight diners, up from six, as part of revisions to tight curfews.

Curfews have become a political hot potato ahead of the election, with small business owners requesting that they be repealed and some experts warning that the medical system will be strained.

According to the KDCA, Omicron became the dominant variety in the third week of January, and by the first week of February, up to 90% of new instances were Omicron.

On Monday, the KDCA announced 99,444 new cases, increasing the total number of infections to 2,157,734, with 7,508 deaths.

  • Reuters