Leading epidemiologist says he’s now convinced Omicron is less virulent than Delta
A leading epidemiologist says he’s now prepared to say the Omicron variant of COVID-19 is less severe than Delta.
The University of Melbourne’s Tony Blakely told 3AW Breakfast he thought the new strain of the coronavirus was somewhere between “10 to 50 per cent” less virulent than Delta.
“I think it’s quite low on virulence,” he said.
“I’ve been tracking through all the international data – we are not seeing an up-kick in hospitalisation rates in the UK and US in the data I can pull down – and we’re not seeing an up-kick in NSW.
“Now, it’s still a little bit early to say it’s really, really mild but it’s clear to me, at least, that it is less virulent.
“How much less virulent? The South Africans say it’s only 10 per cent – a tenfold reduction on Delta – and the Brits are saying it might be 70 per cent.
“This is a very competent group doing the analysis, but when I look closely there are a few biases in there.
“I think we are somewhere between 10 and 50 per cent the virulence of Delta and I think we can actually get that virulence down even lower with boosters.
“With that said, I’m not saying change our policy settings at this point in time.
“Let’s wait until that period at the beginning of January to make more definitive calls, but I am optimistic and hopeful that Omicron is not going to be bad on the virulence side.
“It’s certainly bad on the infectivity side – you could see a state like NSW or Victoria heading up to 10,000 and 15,000 cases a day – and at some level of cases you will stretch the health system, but it’s not going to be at the same level as Delta.”
But he responded with an unequivocal yes when asked whether masks should be worn again in all indoor settings.
Press PLAY below to hear Tony Blakely’s insights
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