Unless one sells vaccines for a living, the overall numbers for the covid-19 variant Omicron will seem wildly encouraging.
Take a California study of 53,000 Omicron and 17,000 Delta cases from November 30, 2021, to January 1, 2022. In every way, Omicron patients did far better—a quarter the hospitalizations of Delta, miniscule admissions to ICU, no ventilation whatever, and a death rate of less than one-tenth of one percent.
The study, by researchers at UC-Berkeley and Kaiser Permanente, suggests, as do others, that Omicron may be the death knell of the pandemic. But, buried deep within its piles of data, it also calls into question the utility of the vaccines themselves.
Beyond showing that the vaccines faltered as Omicron overtook Delta in December, the study lays bare what until now was a heretical assertion.
The share of unvaccinated people hospitalized for Omicron infection was a mere 24 percent—43 of 182 hospitalized patients—compared to 69 percent for Delta.
Put the other way around, the vaccinated have morphed into about three-quarters of hospital admissions for the now-dominant Omicron.
These figures belie the rock-solid mainstream narrative that hospitals are filled with the unvaccinated. Clearly, the “pandemic of the unvaccinated”—always open to question—is no more.
“This is a huge change,” said Juan Chamie, a covid data expert who verified my conclusion from the data. “It is clearly contradicting the ‘99-percent unvaccinated in hospital’ narrative.”
Dr. Mobeen Syed, a YouTube medical educator who favors vaccination of high-risk groups, agreed. The public health message on the hospitalized unvaccinated, he said, was “not up-to-date and transparent enough,” relying on data early in the pandemic when fewer were vaccinated and the variant was different.
“They want to scare,” he told me. “They should have the courage to look at the data and say, ‘Hey guys, the risk (with Omicron) is reducing. Become happy, become more comfortable.’”
While the concept of hospitals packed with the unvaccinated has long been deceptive—as it was in a recent Los Angeles Times article—Omicron clearly and decisively has tipped the balance, the California data shows.
But this is happening elsewhere, too.
Alberta, Canada, has seen a sea change in hospitalized patients. Before Omicron, unvaccinated patients averaged 70 percent of hospitalizations. They are now 29.9 percent, according to government figures. Across Canada, 31 percent of hospital admissions from early December to mid-January were among the unvaccinated, an investigation by a British news site called The Expose found. And in Scotland, the share of unvaccinated admitted to hospitals was 22 percent in late December, dropping to 17 percent in mid-January, according to government figures.
Three realities have emerged about Omicron. Vaccines are faltering badly. The unvaccinated—though still at higher risk than the vaccinated—are doing much better. And Omicron illness, in the vast majority of cases, is a mild upper respiratory disease like other common coronaviruses, begging a question: Is a vaccine even needed for most people?