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Can PCR Testing detect 'Omicron'? Here's what WHO said in its latest update on 'variant of concern'

10:42 AM Nov 29, 2021 | FPJ Web Desk

Geneva: While PCR tests can identify infection with Omicron, studies are looking to whether the new 'variant of concern' has any impact on other test types, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Sunday, according to a report by NDTV

"The widely-used PCR tests continue to detect infection, including infection with Omicron, as we have seen with other variants," WHO informed in an update on what is known so far about the Omicron variant.

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"Studies are ongoing to determine whether there is any impact on other types of tests, including rapid antigen detection tests."

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The WHO on Friday termed Omicron, first discovered earlier this month in southern Africa, as a variant of concern.

The classification placed Omicron into the most concerning category among the COVID-19 variants, along with the other dominant variants like Delta, and its weaker rivals Alpha, Beta and Gamma.

Omicron spread across the world on Sunday, closing borders and re-imposing restrictions as the EU chief said governments faced a "race against time" to understand the variant.

The strain has cast doubt on world's efforts to contain the pandemic due to concerns that it is highly infectious, propelling countries to reimpose curbs many felt were a thing of the past now.

In its update on Sunday the WHO said it was "not yet clear" whether the new strain transmits more easily from person to person, or whether infection with it leads to more severe illness compared to other variants.

"There is currently no information to suggest that symptoms associated with Omicron are different from those from other variants," the UN health agency said.

While initial evidence indicate there may be an increased risk of people who previously suffered from Covid being reinfected with Omicron, information with regards to this is currently limited.

The health body said it was working to gauge the potential effects of the strain on current counter-measures, including vaccines.

Speaking of the treatments, the WHO said corticosteroids and IL6 receptor blockers would still be effective in managing severe Covid-19 infections while other treatments would be studied to determine if they are still as efficient against Omicron.

The WHO has informed studies into various aspects of the Omicron variant would take several weeks to reach conclusions.

"WHO is coordinating with a large number of researchers around the world to better understand Omicron," it said.

Also Read: Thane: Dombivali resident tests COVID-19 positive after returning from South Africa; samples will be sent for genome sequencing

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