Thermo Fisher says its COVID-19 tests accurately detects Omicron variant

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Washington: Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc (TMO.N) said on Monday its COVID-19 diagnostic tests can accurately detect the new coronavirus variant Omicron that has prompted several countries to shut their borders.

The Omicron variant, which was designated a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO), has more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone. The WHO has reported that preliminary evidence suggests an increased risk of transmission compared to other variants of concern. This designation and information are leading to renewed travel restrictions and research to examine the variant’s impact on efficacy of existing vaccines and tests. The WHO and European Centers for Disease Control have both reported that using S-gene target failure (SGTF) of the PCR assays as a proxy for the variant helped to identify Omicron. Cases of the variant were first identified in South Africa and have now been reported in at least a dozen countries around the world.

Preliminary data shows an increased risk of transmission when compared to other variations of concern, according to the WHO.

“This assay can be used not only to successfully detect COVID-19 but… it can also be used as a proxy for the [Omicron] variant,” Mark Stevenson, chief operating officer at Thermo Fisher Scientific, said in an interview.

Stevenson said this is the only COVID-19 diagnostic test that is both authorised by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and can be used to indicate if a case is caused by the Omicron variant.

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