Outcomes of laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection during resurgence driven by Omicron lineages BA.4 and BA.5 compared with previous waves in the Western Cape Province, South Africa

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OBJECTIVE: We aimed to compare clinical severity of Omicron BA.4/BA.5 infection with BA.1 and earlier variant infections among laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases in the Western Cape, South Africa, using timing of infection to infer the lineage/variant causing infection. METHODS: We included public sector patients aged ≥20 years with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 between 1-21 May 2022 (BA.4/BA.5 wave) and equivalent prior wave periods. We compared the risk between waves of (i) death and (ii) severe hospitalization/death (all within 21 days of diagnosis) using Cox regression adjusted for demographics, comorbidities, admission pressure, vaccination and prior infection. RESULTS: Among 3,793 patients from the BA.4/BA.5 wave and 190,836 patients from previous waves the risk of severe hospitalization/death was similar in the BA.4/BA.5 and BA.1 waves (adjusted hazard ratio (aHR) 1.12; 95% confidence interval (CI) 0.93; 1.34). Both Omicron waves had lower risk of severe outcomes than previous waves. Prior infection (aHR 0.29, 95% CI 0.24; 0.36) and vaccination (aHR 0.17; 95% CI 0.07; 0.40 for at least 3 doses vs. no vaccine) were protective. CONCLUSION: Disease severity was similar amongst diagnosed COVID-19 cases in the BA.4/BA.5 and BA.1 periods in the context of growing immunity against SARS-CoV-2 due to prior infection and vaccination, both of which were strongly protective.

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Volume 127
Pages 63-68
Available online
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