The problem with statistics is sample variety and size. If you look at 3 apples in your house, you may think that all apples are red. Omicron statistics are heavily weighted towards the sub-65 demographic right now, which is giving early indications that this variant is milder, up to 2/3rds milder. Larger sample sizes will determine this as being accurate or not. As to why the sample size is smaller, there’s a laundry list of reasons, though primary is that older people (who have survived so far) are being cautious and limiting risks of exposure. Recall that there are 5.4 million less people on the planet due to this disease, and that only accounts for countries who accurately report numbers.
But the stats portion, where there are lower odds of require hospitalization is the interesting metric. Let’s take that 2/3rd number and simply state it at 66%. Compared to 100 cases of Delta requiring a hospital visit, only 33 afflicted by Omicron would need similar treatment. Again, super preliminary, but argument all the same.
The challenge with % is that they are not reflective of absolute volume. If I gave you 10% of $1,000 you would get $100 and it would be a decent gift. If I gave you 10% of $1,000,000 you would have $100,000 and that would probably change a lot in your life. Hospitals don’t work on %, they work on number of beds. If they have 200 beds, when it hits 201 they need to make choices and someone is going to get less service.
Statistically, to occupy the same amount of beds as Delta, Omicron would need to infect ~3x more people (100 Delta vs 33 Omicron). Omicron has a 2 to 3.5x increased transmission rate, again with preliminary statistics. If it’s on the low end, then the hospital load will increase but hopefully be manageable as compared to Delta. If it’s on the high end, then things are going to go downhill pretty quick.
Perhaps we’ll luck out and all future strains will be mild and this can turn into an annual cycle similar to the flu. That’s about the most hopeful thing I can think of right now. Until then, stay safe folks.