When it comes to the Omicron variant, two doses of Pfizer/Bio-N-Tech's vaccine provides 70% protection against hospitalization and just 33% against infection, a newly published preliminary study shows.
Researchers examined more than 211,000 positive Covid-19 tests results in which 41% of the people had received two doses of the Pfizer vaccine. Scientists estimate that about 78,000 of the positive tests collected between November 15 and December 7 were the result of the Omicron variant infection.
The study was conducted by Discovery Health, the nation's largest private health insurer and the South African Medical Research Council.
The data comes weeks after the variant was first detected and identified by researchers in South Africa and Botswana, who alerted the world to the new coronavirus mutation in November.
The study's authors emphasize that the data is still preliminary and hasn't been peer reviewed yet. The data used in the study was gathered over the first three weeks of South Africa's omicron wave that drove up Covid-19 numbers.
Since Omicron was detected, South Africa's new Covid-19 case seven-day average rose from 8.07 new cases per 100,000 people on November 29 to 34.37 new cases per 100,000 on December 13, Johns Hopkins University Covid-19 Tracker shows. The death rate did not rise in that time.
"Superb genetic surveillance by the Network for Genomic Surveillance in South Africa identified that omicron infection accounts for over 90% of new infections in South Africa, and has displaced the formerly dominant delta variant," Discovery Health executive Dr. Ryan Noach, said in a statement.
While there is a marked dip in infection protection, scientists are encouraged by the two-dose vaccine's 70% rate of protection against hospitalization from the Omicron variant. Across age, the Pfizer vaccine is maintaining hospital admission levels, with slightly lower rates seen among people ages 60-60 at 67% and people ages 70-79 at 60%.
Hospitalization rates have maintained for people with other chronic medical conditions, including diabetes, hypertension and more.
For more information on Covid-19, vaccines, and the Omicron variant, please click here.