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Omicron causes disproportionately high hospital admissions of coronavirus in America

America sees more COVID admissions than other wealthy countries during the Omicron rise, according to Our World in Data.

Why it's important: Vaccines keep the vast majority of COVID cases out of the hospital, but vaccination rates are also lower in the United States than in these other countries.

  • U.S. hospitals - especially the health care professionals who staff them - are struggling to keep up with the workload.

The big picture: The Omicron variant is less likely to lead to hospitalization than other variants, data suggests, but it is so transferable that hospitalizations increase anyway.

  • In the United States, more people are hospitalized with COVID than at any other time during the pandemic.
  • Some of these admissions are individuals who need care for other conditions, but who have also tested positive for COVID. But healthcare professionals and experts say that no matter why a COVID patient is in the hospital, they are still straining the system.
  • At least some other countries' hospitalization figures also appear to include random cases, according to news reports.

By the numbers: Of all the countries included in this analysis, the United States has the lowest proportion of its population that is fully vaccinated and also the lowest frequency of booster shots administered according to Our World in Data.

  • Although existing coronavirus vaccines do not work very well against Omicron infection, especially without a booster shot, they are still effective in preventing hospitalization and death. Boostershots further increase this level of protection.
  • Omicron also hit the U.S. while the country experienced a large number of daily Delta cases, such as Scripps Research executive vice president Eric Topol points out on Twitter.

Zoom in: "Overall, a smaller percentage of reported cases were hospitalized compared to the delta wave (about 2% versus about 5%), but there were more overall hospitalizations due to significantly higher case numbers," a report from the New York City Department of Health concluded last . week.

  • And while only about half the proportion of hospitalized patients has required intensive care during the Omicron wave compared to the peak of last winter's wave, "the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients has exceeded what was seen last winter, and the number in the intensive care unit (ICU) is approaching the peak of last winter. "

Go deeper: The end of the Omicron wave is in sight

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