Federal health officials reported Tuesday that the omicron variant caused less severe illness in hospitalized patients than earlier virus lineages, even though its explosive transmissibility has caused far more infections and led to more than 2,200 deaths a day on average, one of the highest tolls since early last year.

Researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Tuesday that people hospitalized with the omicron variant had shorter stays and less frequent admission to intensive care compared with those hospitalized with other coronavirus variants.

Despite record infections and hospitalizations caused by omicron, the percentage of hospitalized patients with severe illness are lower compared with those in earlier pandemic waves. That lower disease severity is partly the result of immune protection from higher vaccination coverage among those 5 and older, booster use and prior infection, as well as the potential lower virulence of the virus itself, according to the report. Other studies have suggested the variant is less able to penetrate deep in the lungs.

That pattern notwithstanding, the virus spreads from person to person with frightening speed, resulting in significant numbers of hospitalizations and deaths. On Tuesday, the seven-day average of daily deaths was 2,230, the highest since late February 2021.... Read More: Washington Post