Arizona Will Remain in Contingency & Crisis Standards of Care in January – but the Worst-case Scenarios Are Now Less Likely
Evidence from the U.K and South Africa this week has lowered my freak out factor about what’s coming in January when Omicron rifles through Arizona. Omicron is far more contagious than Delta, but new evidence suggests it has a less severe clinical presentation compared with Delta. That doesn’t mean things won’t get even worse in Arizona in January – they will because of Omicron’s transmissibility and the Governor Ducey’s hostility toward evidence-0based interventions – but the magnitude of the catastrophe will be less than I thought (if the U.K. and South African observations hold up).
Why? Because researchers in England, Scotland, and South Africa found the risk of admission to a hospital because of an Omicron infection is between 45% and 80% lower than the risk with a Delta infection (in the U.K. and South Africa respectively). The findings have not been peer reviewed, and each have study limitations but the consistency if the findings provide at least a little bit of comfort.
- Hospitalization risk for Omicron cases in England. Dec 2021 (England)
- Severity of omicron variant of concern and vaccine effectiveness against symptomatic disease: national cohort with nested test negative design study in Scotland
- Early assessment of the clinical severity of the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant (South Africa)
From Neil Ferguson from Imperial College London:
“Our analysis shows evidence of a moderate reduction in the risk of hospitalization. However, this appears to be offset by the reduced efficacy of vaccines against infection with the omicron variant. Given the high transmissibility of the omicron virus, there remains the potential for health services to face increasing demand if omicron cases continue to grow at the rate that has been seen in recent weeks.”
Arizona’s hospital system will continue to be operating under Contingency Standards of Care during & Crisis Standards of Care at times in January, and many people will unnecessarily lose their lives as a result of the decisions that our governor and health directors have been making, but the worst-case scenarios that I discussed last week are less likely to occur given this new evidence about Omicron’s clinical presentation.