NDDoH: Omicron causing record high infections and hospital strain, but lower individual risk

Courtesy of: North Dakota Department of Health
Courtesy of: North Dakota Department of Health

(Bismarck, ND) --  The North Dakota Department of Health (NDDoH) shared data regarding case numbers within the state, the severity of individual cases, and vaccine effectiveness. 

The information came from a statewide town hall from the NDDoH, which you can watch here

In the town hall, experts described several mutations and reasons why the Omicron variant of Covid-19 is unique to previous iterations of the disease...

Highly Contagious

The Omicron variant is anywhere between 2.7x to 3.7x more infectious than the Delta variant, which was already much more transmissible than other iterations. Nationwide, more than 1 million cases per day are being reported. This is more than three times higher than the previous record, which was just more than 300,000 cases per day back in January of 2021. Omicron is also able to cause re-infection at a much higher rate. 

Less Virulent

Experts in the Town Hall referred to data from several studies and many of the United States largest cities, which show Omicron is likely to cause less severe illness within an individual patient. They also refer to data from U.K studies, which say Omicron is highly contagious, but less likely to cause hospitalizations with an individual case. 

Lower Vaccine Effectiveness

The town hall refers to several studies and institutions, which conclude the vaccines are less effective against preventing infection from the Omicron variant. However, they are also quick to point out that severe illness, hospitalizations, time within a hospital setting, likelihood to be placed on a ventilator, and death are much less likely to happen, even with a single vaccine. A single vaccination reduces the likelihood of severe illness by 52%, two doses bring that number closer to 70%, and a booster shot brings that number up to 89%. 


As described above, Omicron is less likely to cause severe infection within an individual case. However, hospitalizations across the country have not trended down as one would expect. Experts in the Town Hall say this is because of the abnormally high case load, which cause less severe infections across a wider population, but create a higher number of severe cases through sheer numbers. Data shows hospitalizations in New York City, Washington D.C, and Chicago have more people hospitalized than previous peaks.