Our Newly Developed RT-PCR Test – Identifying OMICRON Directly from RT-PCR
Testing for COVID-19 has gone up significantly in the last month, and consequently positive cases have risen as well and more Omicron variants were identified at our laboratory.
Given the high cost of sequencing, we have adopted a strategy where we developed a RT PCR test with which we can distinguish samples with the unique mutations of the Omicron variant directly from the RT PCR.
With the currently available RT-PCR test, for example, from 1,000 individuals tested, if 5% positive cases were detected (50 cases) but the number of Omicron cases could not be determined, you would normally need to sequence them all, which is costly. That is why in the State of Texas the government plan is to only sequence 25% positive samples randomly, which would leave 75% of cases unidentified.
Here at Ayass Bioscience, LLC Laboratory, using our newly developed RT-PCR test, we are able to distinguish the positive cases that carry Omicron-specific mutations and then sequence them, reducing the chance of missing any Omicron samples down to zero.
We are proud to be the only laboratory that took the necessary scientific steps to quickly identify samples with the Omicron variant directly from our new RT PCR test, and then confirm it with NGS (Next Generation Sequencing).
MOHAMAD AMMAR AYASS, M.D.
The B.1.1.529 variant was first reported to WHO from South Africa on 24 November 2021. The epidemiological situation in South Africa has been characterized by three distinct peaks in reported cases, the latest of which was predominantly the Delta variant. Infections have increased steeply, coinciding with the detection of B.1.1.529 variant. The first known confirmed B.1.1.529 infection was from a specimen collected on 9 November 2021.
Data suggest that Omicron is less severe in general. However, a surge in cases may lead to significant increases in hospitalization and death. More data are needed to fully understand the severity of illness and death associated with this variant.
This variant has a large number of mutations, some of which are concerning. Omicron has 60 mutations (with 30 on the spike protein), reportedly enhancing its ability to infect people.