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Hospital warns not all PCR tests properly detect Omicron variant

Neill Fronde

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PHOTO: A hospital is warning that PCR tests may not detect the Omicron variant. (via KARE)

Ramathibodi Hospital Centre for Medical Genomics has warned that some PCR test kits may fail in accurately identifying people infected with the Omicron variant of Covid-19. The hospital says that the new variant has a growth advantage and that some polymerase chain reaction tests may not be able to see the variant.

The Hospital posted its findings on Facebook recently using 115 samples from an African scientist that contain the Omicron variant genetic code to test how accurate results from a PCR test would be. The results of their experiments were troubling to say the least.

“We found that some PCR test kits may give weakly positive or false negative as the virus may have a growth advantage.”

The World Health Organisation announced that, like the Delta variant that rapidly spread around the world and plunged much of the globe into a new, worse wave of Covid-19 infections, the new Omicron variant has been labelled as a variant of concern – the highest designation that has been used for Covid-19 strains so far.

Scientists at Ramathibodi Hospital Centre say that the African scientist made the 115 Omicron variant samples available worldwide to let scientists from around the world to study the strain simultaneously. The genetic code was added to the GISAID Covid-19 database. The hospital utilised these 115 Omicron variant samples to run PCR tests that were approved by the WHO’s Nexclade programme.

The tests found that some PCR kits are inaccurately returning false-negative results or positive results so weak they may be misinterpreted. The hospital warned Covid-19 testing centres throughout Thailand to ensure they are using PCR tests that are capable of accurately identifying Omicron variant infections, though they did not name which tests in particular are most accurate.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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    Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10 years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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