Seegene, South Korea's leading molecular diagnostics company, has confirmed that its Allplex SARS-CoV-2 Master Assay is capable of detecting Omicron's unique pattern of mutations.
The well-established PCR-based test recognises four SARS-CoV-2 genes and five notable mutations on the spike protein, all in a single test tube. This provides accurate results within four hours on whether or not a person is positive for the virus, and if they have the Omicron variant. To maximise its use, Seegene will support countries in need of tests, so they can rapidly detect cases of Omicron without the labour and equipment required for full genomic sequencing.
The Allplex SARS-CoV-2 Master Assay simultaneously detects four wild-type SARS-CoV-2 genes (E gene, RdRP gene, N gene and S gene) and five notable S-gene mutations: HV69/70 deletion, Y144 deletion, E484K, N501Y, and P681H. As the latest variant Omicron contains HV69/70 deletion, N501Y and P681H mutations, this CE/IVD -arked test can detect Omicron.
The first Omicron (B.1.1.529) case was reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on 24 November. Just two days later, WHO designated the variant a Variant of Concern (VOC), based on its unusually large number of mutations, and early evidence of its spread. Despite a series of rapidly implemented travel bans, it has now been reported in Africa, many European countries, and a few in Asian countries.
The process for identifying novel variants typically involves next-generation sequencing (NGS) of the isolated virus, which would take a few days to get the complete result. For more rapid detection, Seegene's Allplex SARS-CoV-2 Master Assay can detect the variant in the very first stage of screening. Public health officials can then rapidly isolate and contact trace people who are infected with this variant of concern.
"In order to contain the further spread of Omicron, it is extremely important to pre-emptively detect the Omicron variant at the primary screening stage. To that end, we will fully support countries in need of our tests to enable more rapid detection of the latest variant," said Dr Jong-Yoon Chun, Seegene Founder and CEO. Along with strengthening surveillance testing, the implementation of relevant quarantine measures will give more time for countries around the world to contain the rising Omicron infections and protect their citizens.