Lutsar: The mass effect of Omicron could put pressure on hospitals

Irja Lutsar.
Irja Lutsar. Source: Priit Mürk/ERR

Former scientific council chief and University of Tartu virology professor Irja Lutsar warned that while the Omicron variant of the coronavirus is a relatively mild strain, it can still put significant pressure on the healthcare system with its mass effect.

"10 percent of 100,000 is much more than 10 percent of 1,000. Even if only 1 percent of 100,000 ends up hospitalized, it is still a large number," Lutsar said, adding that data from different countries shows that the Omicron variant has caused fewer hospitalizations than the Delta variant.

The virologist said vaccinated people infected with the Omicron strain are 40 percent less likely to end up hospitalized than vaccinated people infected with the Delta variant. "And even if vaccinated people have the Omicron strain, they recover easier. And if they end up in hospital, they are there for a shorter period of time," she said.

Lutsar noted that Omicron infections have decreased in South African countries. "Infections took a right angle upward and then began decreasing. It seems as if infection indicators have calmed down in Denmark and the U.K., but they are not in a downward trend yet," the virologist said.

She said that Estonia's rise in infections has not been as sharp, but the major increase is still to come and indicators for Tartu are already very high. "I think this is the start of the increase and not the end. Infection indicators will begin going up once the virus reaches other regions," Lutsar said.

"Infection indicators in Tartu are very high. But the need for hospital treatment has been stable. The number of people requiring hospitalization for the coronavirus has not increased," the virologist added.


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Editor: Kristjan Kallaste

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