SEOUL: People infected with the Omicron coronavirus variant are nearly 75 per cent less likely to develop serious illness or die than those who contract the Delta variant, real world data released on Monday (Feb 22) by South Korea’s health authorities showed.
A study by the Korea Disease Control and Prevention Agency (KDCA) of some 67,200 infections confirmed since December showed the Omicron variant’s severity and death rates averaged 0.38 per cent and 0.18 per cent, respectively, compared with 1.4 per cent and 0.7 per cent for the Delta cases.
The KDCA classed severe cases as people who were hospitalised in intensive care units.
Around 56 per cent of 1,073 people who died over the past five weeks were either unvaccinated or had received only one dose, the study showed, with people aged 60 or older accounting for 94 per cent of deaths.
More than 86 per cent of South Korea’s 52 million population have been double vaccinated and nearly 60 per cent have received a booster shot.
South Korea had kept cases and deaths relatively low thanks to widespread social distancing measures and aggressive testing and tracing.