Omicron is up to 70 per cent less likely to cause hospitalisations but is better at evading booster jabs, government analysis has shown.
UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) also found that people infected with the new variant were 45 per cent less likely to turn up to A&E.
The official analysis confirms the findings of two independent studies published on Wednesday, which also used real world data to paint a less gloomy picture of the Christmas wave.
It comes after No 10 confirmed there would be no new Covid restrictions announced before Christmas, in contrast to decisions taken in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
There could be fewer admissions due to covid
Despite the good news on severity, the UKHSA data showed that vaccine efficacy is lower against symptomatic omicron.
The latest data suggests the extra protection provided by the booster starts to wane more rapidly against the new variant than against delta, being 15 to 25 per cent lower from 10 weeks after the jab.
Dr Jenny Harries, the chief executive of UKHSA, said: “Our latest analysis shows an encouraging early signal that people who contract the Omicron variant may be at a relatively lower risk of hospitalisation than those who contract other variants.
“However, it should be noted both that this is early data and more research is required to confirm these findings.
“Cases are currently very high in the UK, and even a relatively low proportion requiring hospitalisation could result in a significant number of people becoming seriously ill.
“The best way that you can protect yourself is to come forward for your first two doses of vaccine, or your booster jab and do everything you can to stop onward transmission of the infection.”