Do Rapid At-Home Tests Detect the Omicron Variant: Here’s what experts are saying?

Omicron Variant
Photo Credit: Hindustan Times

The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) stated this week that while the rapid tests can detect coronavirus infection despite the addition of numerous new variants, they may have lower sensitivity when it comes to detecting the Omicron variety. 

The need for coronavirus disease (Covid-19) testing is at an all-time high right now, thanks to growing fears about the novel, highly transmissible Omicron strain of SARS-CoV-2. While RT-PCR (reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction) tests are usually seen to be the most reliable method of diagnosing a potential Covid-19 infection, many people prefer the rapid antigen test (Rat) for a speedier check on viral contamination.

“If you feel sick after going out to a nightclub in an area with high infection rates, for example, you should look at a negative result from an at-home test with a little more skepticism,” she was quoted as saying by an American publication.

The president of the College of American Pathologists, Emily Volk, put forward that rapid tests can still detect Covid-19 regardless of whether it is caused by the Delta, Alpha, or Omicron variants. Moreover, the researchers have suggested that the Omicron variant may still be a bit harder to detect than the other variants of the virus.

The Omicron variant was first found in South Africa back in November last year. The government agencies are still studying the complete extent of how the tests react to this new variant. However, the government officials are still advising the Indian citizens about taking at-home Covid-19 testing. They are guiding people to continue to use it when a quick result is important. These rapid tests – which can more often than not be conducted at home and provide results in 5 to 30 minutes – detect the Omicron variant. 

The president of the College of American Pathologists, Emily Volk, too, said, “If at-home Covid-19 tests once combined with vaccinations then it could be easier for people to meet up with their friends and families without risking their lives and the life of their loved ones.  

According to the experts, the better idea is to follow up with an RT-PCR test, which is more accurate and done at testing sites and hospitals. If Covid-19 is detected, the patient’s sample will be sent to an appropriate laboratory to detect the variant of the coronavirus.

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