The World Health Organization recently labelled Omicron as a ‘variant of concern’ for a new variant of the novel coronavirus, which relates to the lineage B.1.1.529. Scientists in South Africa discovered this variant, which has now propagated to almost a dozen nations, including Italy, the Netherlands, Australia, the United Kingdom, Hong Kong, Botswana, Germany, and Belgium.
So, here are some answers to your questions that you must be thinking of:
What Testing Methods Are Used To Detect The Omicron Variant?
The swabs samples collected from the patients are sent to the labs for investigation for PCR testing, this can tell whether the infection is caused by the omicron variant or any other variant of coronavirus.
If the results are positive, then full genetic analysis is done and usually it would take up to 2 weeks to confirm the variant of the virus.
Can Lateral Flow Test Detect The Variant?
Lateral flow tests or rapid tests are the ones that you can also do at home. However, they can only tell whether you have been tested positive or negative. These tests cannot tell if you’ve been tested positive for the omicron variant.
How Is Omicron Different From The Other Variants Of Coronavirus?
The Omicron variant incorporates several mutations that have never been seen before. The biggest problem is that a substantial number of them are on the virus’s spike protein, which is the target of most vaccinations.
In typical tests, Omicron exhibits an “S-gene dropout” (which Delta does not have in most cases), which suggests that it could be the new variant.
However, not all “S-gene dropouts” would be omicron; comprehensive genomic sequencing is required to be certain.
Why Is Genome Sequencing Of The Variant So Important?
Scientists can determine whether someone is positive for Omicron or the more common Delta virus by carefully examining the genetic material presented. This approach simply provides information about the swabs that are tested; nevertheless, by analyzing the data, scientists can predict what fraction of new cases may be the new variant of the virus.
What Else Do We Know About The New Variant?
Presently, very little is known about the omicron variant and how it could be a threat to us.
For instance, it’s unclear whether it spreads more quickly, if it makes individuals worse than other types, or if vaccination protection would be lower than previously assumed.
However, the government has started taking preventive measures already to control the spreading of the virus.