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Is Omicron More Mild? (Probably Not)

SPRINGFIELD, TN - APRIL 18:  Medical personnel work at a drive thru coronavirus (covid-19) testing site at Robertson County Fairgrounds on April 18, 2020 in Springfield, Tennessee. Tennessee drive thru testing sites now allow those without symptoms of coronavirus (covid-19) to receive testing. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images)
SPRINGFIELD, TN - APRIL 18: Medical personnel work at a drive thru coronavirus (covid-19) testing site at Robertson County Fairgrounds on April 18, 2020 in Springfield, Tennessee. Tennessee drive thru testing sites ... SPRINGFIELD, TN - APRIL 18: Medical personnel work at a drive thru coronavirus (covid-19) testing site at Robertson County Fairgrounds on April 18, 2020 in Springfield, Tennessee. Tennessee drive thru testing sites now allow those without symptoms of coronavirus (covid-19) to receive testing. (Photo by Brett Carlsen/Getty Images) MORE LESS
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December 8, 2021 4:53 p.m.

You’ve probably heard reports that Omicron COVID in South Africa has generally been causing milder forms of the disease. The caution on these reports is that they are early, anecdotal, haven’t given enough time to generate severe outcomes and have been disproportionately among the young. Each of these points remains true. But over the last couple days the data has become sufficiently detailed that it does seem like people presenting with Omicron COVID are relatively less sick than those who presented with Delta at the same point in earlier waves. So, definitely still too early to say for sure but probably too far along to dismiss it as merely anecdotal or just an artifact of distorted early data.

So doesn’t that suggest that Omicron is a milder version of COVID? Here’s why it doesn’t.

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