Pfizer jab ‘offers 70% protection against hospital admission with Omicron’

Pfizer Jab ‘Offers 70% Protection Against Hospital Admission With Omicron’
Overall, adults infected with Omicron were 29 per cent less likely to need hospital care compared to earlier variants, the study suggested. Photo: PA Images
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Jane Kirby, PA Health Editor

Most cases of Omicron in South Africa are mild, the head of its medical association has told British MPs, as new real-world data suggests two doses of the Pfizer vaccine offer 70 per cent protection against hospital admission.

Dr Angelique Coetzee, chairwoman of the South African Medical Association, told the UK's House of Commons Science and Technology Committee she agrees with a new study from the South African Medical Research Council suggesting that Omicron may be 29 per cent less severe than previous waves.


She said “we don’t have all the answers” but the clinical picture so far is that people are mostly suffering mild illness from Omicron.

Dr Coetzee said some people are getting breakthrough infections if they are vaccinated or if they have had Covid before, but cases seemed to be milder, especially for the vaccinated.



“The breakthrough infections we are seeing are mild… (and) the symptoms we are seeing in (vaccinated) people are less severe or intense than in the unvaccinated,” she said.

“On a hospital level… between 88-90 per cent (of people) are unvaccinated.”


She said that in hospitals it is hard to differentiate between those patients with the Delta variant and those with Omicron, but that intensive care units “are still not overwhelmed”.

It came as a new study, based on preliminary data from the first three weeks of the Omicron surge in South Africa, suggested that two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech jab makes vaccinated people 70 per cent less likely to be admitted to hospital compared with those who are unvaccinated.

This is lower than the 93 per cent protection the jabs gave during the Delta wave, but still offers a good degree of protection.

Overall, adults infected with Omicron were 29 per cent less likely to need hospital care compared with earlier variants, the study found.


Younger age groups were slightly less likely to go to hospital than older people, though experts think this may be due to waning immunity in older people who were given their vaccines first.

The study was in a population where most had a previous Covid infection – as high as 70 per cent of people in some areas of Gauteng province.

South Africa also has a high burden of TB and HIV.

The study was based on 211,000 positive Covid test results in the three weeks to December 7th, including 78,000 thought to be Omicron.


Overall, 41 per cent of those testing positive had received two doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine.

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