Small victories were won in the fight against the Omicron variant of coronavirus on Thursday (December 23) in data released by two British universities.
Imperial College in London says the risk of needing to stay in hospital for patients with Omicron is 40% to 45% lower than for patients with the Delta variant.
Meanwhile, findings from an Oxford University lab study suggest that three doses of AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine are effective against Omicron.
Oxford's findings are yet to be published in a peer-reviewed medical journal.
They match those from rivals Pfizer-BioNTech which have also found a third dose of their shots against Omicron.
The study on AstraZeneca's vaccine showed that after a three-dose course, neutralizing levels against Omicron were broadly similar to those against the virus's Delta variant after two doses.
Although the early data is positive for the company, AstraZeneca said on Tuesday it was working with Oxford University to produce a vaccine tailored for Omicron, joining similar efforts from other vaccine-makers.
Imperial College researchers said the risk of any visit to hospital with Omicron was between 20% and 25% lower than with Delta.
However, they added that the reductions in hospitalization must be balanced against the larger risk of infection with Omicron, due to the reduction in protection provided by both vaccination and natural infection.