New CDC Data on Omicron Says It All: 91% Less Lethal


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OK, it’s finally time to officially stop the insanity with Omicron. We had data from South Africa that discussed that it was far less lethal and much more transmissible. The data to date has generally supported those facts. Now a CDC study makes it official. Let’s dive in.

The New CDC Data

The CDC and UC Berkely scientists reviewed 52,297 cases with Omicron and 16,982 cases with the Delta variant infections looking at the risk of hospitalization, ICU stays, and death. Here’s the data:

  • 0.5% of Omicron cases with symptoms ended up in the hospital versus 1.3% with Delta. That statistic is sobering in itself. About 1 in 200 patients with known Omicron and symptoms ended up needing hospitalization. One in 77 of those patients with Delta needed hospitalization. Length of stay while in the hospital was 2/3rds less for Omicron. Why is that a big deal? Let’s review what that looks like in terms of real-life risk:

Even with Delta, we know that most people who get infected don’t show symptoms (2). We also know from this data that only 1 in 77 patients who do get symptoms end up in the hospital. Hence, your risk of picking up the SARSCoV2 virus while shopping at your local Whole Foods and ending up in the hospital is 1 in several hundred. More if you’re older or have risk factors and less is you’re younger and are healthy. Much less if you’re vaccinated. So for a young healthy vaccinated person under the age of 50, your risk of hospitalization after being infected with Delta is VERY SMALL.

Now if we switch to Omicron, that goes down by 62%! Hence, that means the average hospitalization rate from infection is MUCH SMALLER.

  • Those infected with Omicron are 75% less likely to need ICU admission. Again, to update our Venn Diagram:

Again, even if you had Delta, the current likelihood of needing an ICU admission after being hospitalized is some fraction of the total number of people who were admitted to the hospital. That number has fallen as we have developed vaccinations and numerous treatments that can be given in the hospital or even in an outpatient setting once the patient is stabilized. Now that number is 75% less for Omicron. Also from the study, not a single patient with Omicron needed a mechanical ventilator!

  • Omicron cases were 91% less likely to die than Delta. In fact, only one patient WITH OMICRON out of 16,982 cases died. PLEASE LET THAT SINK IN BEFORE YOU READ ON. 

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The Analysis

Based on this analysis, let’s do some back of napkin math. The thing people are really afraid of with COVID is death. However, this data shows that death from Omicron after being infected while out and about is 1 in 50,000. Meaning only a single patient died out of 52,297 confirmed infections. Now you could argue that the observation period needed to be longer, but since not a single Omicron patient went on ventialtor, that’s unlikely to change much. Even if the real infection to death rate is 1/5 of that number, it’s still ridiculously low.

1 in 10,000 is about your annual risk of dying from a car crash (which is 1 in 8,393). Hence, if you’re not in abject fear of driving to the store or work, then please don’t be afraid of Omicron. Wash your hands, wear a mask when they tell you to, socially distance where you can, and get vaccinated. However, please live your life, as it’s time to begin figuring out how to live with COVID. The idea that we can eliminate this disease is epidemiologically silly.

Omicron Is Over in Many States

The latest IMHE models of Omicron infection show that the number of new cases have peaked and are declining in many states. In fact, the US peak infections happened last week. Florida peaked the week before that as did New York.

The upshot? This new CDC and UC Berkely data show that we all need to go about our lives, take reasonable precautions, and continue to protect the medically vulnerable. It also shows that the risk of death from Omicron is crazy low and that we need to live our lives! If you have a loved one who is living in abject fear, please send them this blog.



(1) Lewnad et al. Clinical outcomes among patients infected with Omicron (B.1.1.529) SARS-CoV-2 variant in southern California. medRxiv.

(2) Ma Q, Liu J, Liu Q, et al. Global Percentage of Asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 Infections Among the Tested Population and Individuals With Confirmed COVID-19 Diagnosis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis. JAMA Netw Open. 2021;4(12):e2137257. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2021.37257

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Chris Centeno, MD is a specialist in regenerative medicine and the new field of Interventional Orthopedics. Centeno pioneered orthopedic stem cell procedures in 2005 and is responsible for a large amount of the published research on stem cell use for orthopedic applications. View Profile

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