The two-dose Pfizer-BioNTech vaccination, it was confirmed in a Discovery-led media briefing today when releasing collaborative insights into the Omicron variant, provides 70% protection against severe complications of COVID-19 requiring hospitalisation, and 33% protection against COVID-19 infection, during the current Omicron wave.

For individuals who have had COVID-19 previously, the risk of reinfection with Omicron is significantly higher, relative to prior variants.

However, the risk of hospital admission among adults diagnosed with COVID-19 is 29% lower for the Omicron variant infection compared to infections involving the D614G mutation in South Africa’s first wave in mid-2020, after adjusting for vaccination status

And in the case of children, it was found that despite very low absolute incidence, preliminary data suggests that children have a 20% higher risk of hospital admission in Omicron-led fourth wave in South Africa, relative to the D614G-led first wave.

“It is important to note that these insights* relate to data from the first three weeks of the Omicron-driven wave in South Africa,” it was stressed during this morning’s media briefing. 

“Therefore, the insights should be considered preliminary, since they may change as the wave progresses. This data is also confounded by various factors, including high sero-prevalence of COVID-19 antibodies in the South African population as a whole.”

Over the past month, it was explained, Discovery Health’s clinical research and actuarial teams have carried out the first at-scale analysis of Omicron’s real-world impact. These teams partnered with world-leading researchers from the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) to provide insights into the vaccine effectiveness of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine against infections and severe disease linked to Omicron infection.

Various other components of Omicron infection, including the rate of spread, the severity of illness relative to prior waves, clinical manifestations, and the relative reduction of risk conferred by prior proven COVID-19 infection, were also explored.

“The detailed vaccine effectiveness analysis in collaboration with the SAMRC,” the media were told, “includes more than 211 000 positive COVID-19 test results, 41% from adult members who had received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Approximately 78 000 of these positive COVID-19 test results were attributed to Omicron infections over the period 15 November 2021 to 7 December 2021.”

The analysis, it was confirmed, demonstrates that protection against hospital admission is maintained across all ages, in people from 18 to 79 years, with slightly lower levels of protection for the elderly (67% in people aged 60 to 69 and 60% for people aged 70 to 79):  “Protection against admission is also consistent across a range of chronic illnesses, including diabetes, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia and other cardiovascular diseases.”

Various other components of Omicron infection, including the rate of spread, the severity of illness relative to prior waves, clinical manifestations, and the relative reduction of risk conferred by prior proven COVID-19 infection, were also explored.

“The detailed vaccine effectiveness analysis in collaboration with the SAMRC,” it was noted further, “includes more than 211 000 positive COVID-19 test results, 41% from adult members who had received two doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine. Approximately 78 000 of these positive COVID-19 test results were attributed to Omicron infections over the period 15 November 2021 to 7 December 2021.”

In her response, president of the SAMRC, Prof Glenda Gray, added: “We are extremely encouraged by the results of Discovery Health’s analysis. It is extremely important to be able to demonstrate to the public that in a real-world setting – in the presence of a highly transmissible new COVID-19 variant – the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine provides good protection against severe disease and hospitalisation.”

*The full presentation can be accessed at https://resources.mynewsdesk.com/image/upload/fl_attachment/lw9szzdtqfvwitkfbcoq

SOURCE: Discovery Corporate Newsroom