HIQA provides further updates on Omicron to NPHET

Date of publication:

The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has today published three reports it submitted to the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) on 19 January.

HIQA updated its rolling reviews on international public health guidance and agency assessments of the evidence in relation to Omicron. In addition, a new report was provided to NPHET on epidemiological data from countries which experienced a high burden of Omicron cases earlier than Ireland.

HIQA reviewed the latest international guidance on measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and found that, generally, recommendations to avoid large public and private events were still widespread. However, restrictions, such as the required duration of restriction of movements, were beginning to relax in most countries.

HIQA also identified and summarised assessments of the scientific evidence as published by public health agencies and authorities between 4 and 18 January 2022. Key factors relating to the impact of the Omicron variant were examined, including assessments of transmission and transmissibility, severity of infection, the ability of Omicron to escape immunity, and the effectiveness of existing vaccines, treatments, and tests. While the clinical impact of Omicron is still not fully understood, there is growing evidence that Omicron is associated with less severe disease than previous variants.  

In considering epidemiological trends since the emergence of the Omicron variant, HIQA noted that by mid-January, cases in the UK and South Africa appeared to have passed a peak and were declining, and that hospital admissions, including ICU admissions were stable in these countries.

Dr Máirín Ryan, HIQA’s Director of Health Technology Assessment said: “Considering the international trends in hospitalisations and ICU admission rates, as well as the scientific evidence on the Omicron variant, there is cautious optimism that things appear to be moving in the right direction, despite ongoing high levels of transmission associated with Omicron. This is reflected in the international public health guidance where there has been some easing of restrictions.”
You can find the reports here.

Ends.

Further information:
Marty Whelan, Head of Communications & Stakeholder Engagement
01 814 7480/085 805 5202, mwhelan@hiqa.ie

Notes to Editor:

  • HIQA has today published the following documents to inform NPHET’s response to COVID-19:
    • Rolling review of International Public Health Guidance in relation to the Omicron variant (B.1.1.529).
    • Update on international public health agency assessments of the evidence in relation to the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant.
    • International epidemiological data in relation to the Omicron (B.1.1.529) variant
  • The first two reports are updates to previous HIQA publications regarding the scientific evidence and public health guidance on Omicron. Information in these two reports is up to date as of 18 January 2022.
  • The third report summarises epidemiological information for those countries which had a high burden of cases of the Omicron variant at an earlier stage than Ireland, including Denmark, the UK and South Africa, with a focus on trends in incidence and hospitalisation. For this report, information is up to date as of 17 January 2022.
  • HIQA’s COVID-19 Evidence Synthesis Team provides evidence reports and evidence-based advice to NPHET to inform public health policy, advice and practice in the context of COVID-19.
  • The topics HIQA researches are outlined and prioritised by NPHET to ensure rapid access to the best available evidence relevant to the COVID-19 pandemic.