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Omicron would be more lethal than influenza, say Japanese experts

Omicron would be more lethal than influenza, say Japanese experts

The omicron variant of COVID-19 is at least 40% more deadly than seasonal influenza, according to Japanese scientists, highlighting the potential danger of withdrawing pandemic restrictions too quickly and underestimating the virus’s risks to human health. Health.

The mortality rate of the omicron variant in Japanbased on the cumulative excess mortality and contagion figure since January, was around 0.13%, according to an analysis by scientists advising the country’s health minister.

While that level is well below the 4.25% fatality rate in earlier stages of the outbreak, it is still higher than the 0.006% to 0.09% seen with seasonal flu, they said.

Countries around the world have been relaxing mitigation measures, from mask mandates to testing requirements, and pushing to return to normal life. The population is tired of the restrictions and the less seriousness of the omicron variant has made many hope that the rules are no longer essential.

While Japan has not formally eased the status, it is easing border restrictions and quarantine periods for travellers, essential workers and close contacts of positive cases to keep the economy going.

The decreased mortality with omicron could reflect both the variant’s lower virulence, particularly compared to the delta variant, and the benefits of vaccination, the analysis notes. The findings show the importance of having control measures in place before the vaccines were fully distributed, the researchers said.

More studies are needed to determine the impact of the easing once all restrictions are lifted, Takaji Wakita, chairman of the advisory board of the Ministry of Health, said at a briefing where the data was presented on Wednesday night. The current information was obtained when most of the pandemic restrictions were still in place, he said.

The study, which has not been peer-reviewed or published in a medical journal, has several limitations, including differences in how the data was collected, making comparisons with other studies difficult, Wakita said.

However, there is a considerable difference in mortality”, although the arrival of omicron has reduced the gap between COVID and influenza, he said.

The wave driven by the omicron variant has led some regions of Japan to impose near-emergency states that restrict the operation of bars and restaurants. Currently, 31 of the country’s 47 prefectures are under such measures until March 6.

Some areas, such as Osaka and Kyoto, have tried to extend them, while others have called for them to be lifted, national outlet NHK reported on Wednesday.

Source: Gestion

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