According to a recent study, it was found that there was a greater death risk among those hospitalised with the Omicron variant than among those with seasonal influenza.

Although the Omicron variant is thought to be less virulent and has lower case fatality rates than the Delta and Alpha strains, a new study has shown that adults hospitalised with the Omicron variant had a higher mortality rate than adults hospitalised with seasonal influenza.

In the 2021–2022 influenza season, persons (18 years and older) hospitalised with influenza were 55 per cent less likely to die within 30 days than those hospitalised with Omicron, according to research carried out by Dr Alaa Atamna and associates from Israel’s Belinison Hospital’s Rabin Medical Center.

COVID-19 and influenza are both respiratory infections that spread similarly. Researchers at a major academic hospital in Israel examined the clinical outcomes of patients hospitalised with COVID-19 (Omicron strain) with those hospitalised with influenza to understand it more.  Overall, 63 patients died within 30 days: 44 were hospitalised with Omicron and 19 were influenza admissions.

Although asthma was more prevalent in patients hospitalised with influenza, patients with Omicron tended to have higher total comorbidity ratings, needed more assistance with activities of daily living (washing and dressing), and had higher rates of diabetes and high blood pressure.

Patients with the Omicron variant were also more likely to experience respiratory issues, as well as require oxygen assistance and mechanical ventilation. The fact that patients hospitalised with Omicron were older and had other serious underlying conditions including diabetes and chronic renal disease may be a contributing factor in the greater Omicron death rate, according to Dr Atamna.

Given that immunisation against COVID-19 was much less common among patients with Omicron, the difference might possibly be the result of an amplification of the immune response to COVID-19 he continued.  According to research that will be presented at this year’s European Congress of Clinical Microbiology & Infectious Diseases (ECCMID) in Copenhagen this month, overlapping influenza and Covid-19 outbreaks will raise the complexity of illness and the strain on health systems.