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New York, U.K. post COVID case records, but hospitalizations and deaths remain low

Vaccinations, natural immunity may be keeping fatalities low during major surge

Published: December 18, 2021 10:42am

Updated: December 18, 2021 6:53pm

Authorities reported record-breaking COVID-19 case counts in multiple major regions across the world late this week, offering further signs of the omicron variant's high transmissibility. However, hospitalizations and deaths attributable to the disease remained much lower than earlier surges, suggesting a shift in the pandemic after roughly two years of natural immunity and about a year of vaccinations. 

The United Kingdom had two back-to-back record-breaking days this week, posting case numbers tens of thousands higher than the earlier one-day record almost exactly a year ago in January. 

New York State had a less-dramatic yet still firmly record-breaking day as it struggles with its own surge there. 

Gov. Kathy Hochul's office said the has set another single-day positive COVID case record with nearly 22,000 positive cases reported in 24 hours, reported Saturday.

Yet in both cases, hospitalizations and deaths have remained markedly lower than in lower surges: In New York deaths have risen slightly since the beginning of the month but have continued on the largely flat trajectory they've held since the summer.

Deaths in the United Kingdom have remained similarly low, and hospitalizations in both regions are lower than in earlier surges. 

"The omicron symptoms have been very mild," Yves Derouseu, the emergency services director at Lenox Hill Hospital, told NBC4 New York. "The impact on those vaccinated has been clinically mild. It's not converting to admissions to the hospital, or deaths."

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