Omicron versus Delta: What we know so far about the Covid-19 variants, Latest Singapore News - The New Paper

Omicron versus Delta: What we know so far about the Covid-19 variants

The Omicron variant is now becoming a better known enemy with more data available.

Here are some differences between the Omicron and Delta variants detailed at the virtual Covid-19 multi-ministry task force press conference on Wednesday (Jan 5).

1. Omicron is more transmissible than the Delta variant

Between late October and early November 2021, Singapore had about 3,000 Delta cases a day. The number of Omicron cases could exceed this by a few times. At its peak, Delta infections were doubling every six to eight days. On the other hand, Omicron infections may double in just two to three days, Health Minister Ong Ye Kung said.

2. Omicron infections are less severe than Delta, particularly among the vaccinated and even more so among those who have received their booster shots

This is consistent with international data and what Singapore has been witnessing, Mr Ong said.

So far, Singapore has 2,252 Omicron cases and, out of these, three required oxygen supplementation and all three have been taken off oxygen within three days. None of the Omicron cases has been warded in the intensive care unit (ICU) so far. If 2,252 cases were infected by the Delta variant, Singapore would have had about 30 individuals requiring oxygen supplementation, being warded in ICU or die, Mr Ong said.

However, as seen from the experience of other countries such as Britain, the relative lower risk of severe infection of Omicron but overall high numbers of infection could mean a significantly higher absolute number of hospitalisations, despite the generally less severe infection risk.

3. Vaccines, especially booster shots, allow a person to retain substantial protection against severe infections

However, there is an increased risk of reinfection among people who have previously recovered from Covid-19 infection, the Health Ministry's director of medical services Kenneth Mak said.

Although there is lower vaccine efficacy against the Omicron variant compared with Delta, vaccination still provides a protective benefit against Omicron.