What is the new Omicron variant?
Cases of the Omicron variant were found in the UK shortly after news broke that it had been identified in South Africa.
The dominant variant of coronavirus historically, is still Delta, which is responsible for around 40,000 new cases every day in the UK. But the Omicron variant stands out because it has lots of different mutations, some that have not been seen before, and many that have. The main concerning feature of this particular strain is that a large number of the mutations are on the spike protein of the virus, which is the target of most vaccines.
At the moment little is known about how the variant acts or how much of a threat it could be. The World Health Organisation says there is no evidence that symptoms of Omicron are different to those of other variants. But on paper it still looks worrying, which is why governments across the globe are acting quickly.
How do PCR tests detect the Omicron variant?
“PCR tests are a critical part of the UK’s strategy to contain the Omicron variant,” explained Mark Frost, director of diagnostic testing provider Circular 1.