The new COVID-19 variant, which has been dubbed the Omicron variant, has sparked a major fear in the people as well as the administrations of the countries. Till now, the new variant has been detected in several countries like South Africa, Botswana, the United Kingdom, and others.
One of the major questions which have remained in the minds of many is that can the new variant of COVID-19 be detected by the standard RT-PCR or RAT tests? The World Health Organisation (WHO) has now answered this query to provide clarity on the issue.
In the latest statement, the WHO has said that the Omicron variant can be detected effectively by the standard Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests. The organization has further said that studies are currently being conducted on the Rapid Antigen Test (RAT) to check if it can detect the Omicron variant.
The WHO, in its statement, said, “The widely used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants as well. Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests.”
The Omicron variant was first detected in the southern part of Africa earlier this month and was declared as a variant of concern by the WHO. It has been designated to the most troubling category on COVID-19, along with the Delta variant, which led to the deadly second wave of the pandemic across the globe.
The spread of Omicron is not widespread as of now, but it has prompted the countries to take strict measures when it comes to international travel. Many international travel norms have been reimposed at airports and borders to make sure that the Omicron variant doesn’t spread further.
Currently, there is no definite information on whether the new COVID-19 variant spreads faster than the previously detected variants. WHO had also said, “There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants.”