BOOSTERS give 88 per cent protection against being hospitalised with Omicron, new data has revealed today.
The encouraging new findings come as Brits have been urged to get their extra dose of Covid vaccine, to beat back the variant.
Health and Social Care Secretary Sajid Javid said: "This is more promising data which reinforces just how important vaccines are. They save lives and prevent serious illness.
"This analysis shows you are up to 8 times more likely to end up in hospital as a result of Covid-19 if you are unvaccinated.
"It is never too late to come forward for your first dose and it’s vital that everyone comes forward to get boosted now as we head into the new year."
A string of hugely positive studies have found Omicron IS milder than other strains, with the first official UK report revealing the risk of hospitalisation is 50 to 70 per cent lower than with Delta.
Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic, health officials have repeatedly said.
The Sun's Jabs Army campaign is helping get the vital extra vaccines in Brits' arms to ward off the need for any new restrictions.
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UKHSA and the Cambridge University MRC Biostatistics unit found vaccines do work to prevent serious illness from Omicron.
Protection from vaccines against hospitalisation with symptomatic illness was estimated as 52 per cent after one dose, 72 per cent two to 24 weeks after dose two, 52 per cent 25+ weeks after dose 2 and 88 per cent two weeks after a booster dose.
For people who don't show symptoms, protection against hospitalisation risk dropped slightly but is still high at an estimated 81 per cent.
Susan Hopkins, Chief Medical Adviser at UKHSA, said: "The latest set of analysis is in keeping with the encouraging signs we have already seen.
"However, it remains too early to draw any definitive conclusions on hospital severity, and the increased transmissibility of Omicron and the rising cases in the over 60s population in England means it remains highly likely that there will be significant pressure on the NHS in coming weeks.
"The data once again shows that coming forward for your jab, particularly your third dose, is the best way of protecting yourself and others against infection and severe disease."
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Prof Penny Ward, Independent Pharmaceutical Physician, and Visiting Professor in Pharmaceutical Medicine at King’s College London, said: "As already reported, protection against symptomatic disease is lower following infection with the omicron than the delta variant, with protection against symptomatic illness after omicron variant infection being almost completely lost six months following completion of a primary course with any vaccine type, but restored to 60 per cent or higher within two weeks of receipt of a booster shot.
"Fortunately, despite reduced protection from symptomatic illness, completion of a primary vaccine course in the previous six months confers 72 per cent protection from hospitalisation following omicron variant infection, rising to 88 per cent within 2 weeks following receipt of a booster shot."
Earlier this month experts concluded the variant – which threw Britain's path out of the pandemic off course – does spark a less serious illness than Delta in most people.
UKHSA also confirmed that two vaccine doses aren't enough to give strong protection, but a booster significantly reduces the chance of both symptomatic infection and hospitalisation.
Their findings echo those of countless health officials who have repeatedly said Covid booster jabs protect against Omicron and offer the best chance to get through the pandemic.
It comes as Covid hospital admissions in England rose by 50 per cent in the week before Christmas – but a THIRD went in for other health problems.
Around 33 per cent of all Covid positive people in hospital were found to have the virus as a secondary issue, fresh data showed today.
It means, while cases and admissions have risen, a large chunk of them were not serious enough to end up in hospital but ended up there for other reasons.
New data released today from NHS England showed on December 18 there were 709 new Covid patients in hospitals, and by December 26 the number had risen to 1,338.
But the figures also backs up expert studies showing Omicron is milder than other Covid variants, as only a small proportion have so far needed critical care.
Boris Johnson pleaded in his New Year Eve address: “I want to speak directly to all those who have yet to get fully vaccinated.
“The people who think the disease can’t hurt them, look at the people going into hospital now. That could be you.
“Look at the intensive care units and the miserable, needless suffering of those who did not get their booster. That could be you.
“So, make it your New Year’s resolution. Find a walk-in centre or make an online appointment. Get that jab and do something that will make 2022 a happy New Year for us all.”
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