A recent study published in the CDC’s Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR) examined hospital-associated disease severity markers, including ICU admissions, length of stay, and death. The study found that disease severity, measured by US healthcare utilization, appeared to be lower during the Omicron VOC surge compared to both the Delta VOC surge and the previous winter season. ICU admissions during the beginning of the Omicron surge were 26% lower and 29% lower than during the Delta and winter 2020-2021 surges, respectively. Mean length of hospital stay was also comparatively lower. However, due to the massive number of positive cases, overall staffed hospital bed usage was 7% higher than during Delta and 3% higher than during winter 2020-2021. The study was not able to directly assess the impact that vaccines had on disease severity markers or hospital stay lengths, but the authors posit that decreased admissions to the ICU and lower overall hospital stays during the Omicron surge can likely be attributed to higher vaccine coverage as well as higher levels of infection-acquired immunity. Supporting this hypothesis, high relative increases in hospital admittance were only observed in children 0- to 4-years-old who are currently not eligible for vaccination. Although people infected with Omicron appeared to require less intensive care at the hospital level, the sheer number of cases and burden on the healthcare system overall required significant resources and resulted in severe strain. The authors statethat this analysis “underscores the importance of national emergency preparedness, specifically, hospital surge capacity and the ability to adequately staff local health care systems.” This is important as newly reported cases of Covid-19 decline in parts of the U.S., researchers around the world are monitoring a new variant of the Omicron variant dubbed BA.2. The variant is under observation by countries including Denmark, India and the U.K., though little is still known about its properties and the threat it may pose. The WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, PhD, said global conditions are ripe for new variants to emerge during a Jan. 24 briefing. “It is dangerous to assume that omicron will be the last variant, or that we are in the endgame,” he said.
A new report, published Monday by the International Centre for Nurse Migration (ICNM) in partnership with CGFNS International, Inc. and ICN titled Sustain and Retain in 2022 and Beyond, has revealed how the COVID-19 pandemic has made the fragile state of the global nursing workforce much worse, putting the World Health Organization’s (WHO) aim of Universal Health Coverage at serious risk. It suggests up to 13 million more nurses will be required over the next decade, the equivalent of almost half of the world’s current 28 million-strong workforce. The report says a long-term plan is needed to stem the tide of those leaving nursing because of the additional stresses resulting from COVID-19 and to create a new generation of nurses to grow the profession to meet increased future demands of an aging global population.