Thermo Fisher Scientific (NYSE:TMO) said today that its TaqPath diagnostic kit can detect the emerging Omicron variant of COVID-19.
Waltham, Massachusetts-based Thermo Fisher’s polymerase chain reaction (PCR) TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit and TaqPath COVID-19 CE-IVD RT-PCR Kit, which test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus causing COVID-19), offer accurate results for samples with the latest variant of the virus, B.1.1.529 (“Omicron”).
Omicron was recently designated as a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization (WHO) as it contains more than 30 mutations in the spike protein alone, posing a potential problem of increased transmission when compared to other variants. The emergence of Omicron has led to new travel restrictions and increased research to assess its impact on vaccines and diagnostics.
TaqPath assays detect SARS-CoV-2 infections by identifying the presence of three gene targets from the orf1a/b, S, and N regions of the virus. While the S gene target in the test is impacted by Omicron, the remaining targets are determined to not be affected, meaning the overall accuracy of the assays are not impacted, Thermo Fisher said in a news release.
Thermo Fisher also said it has developed TaqPath COVID-19 2.0 tests with an advanced assay design to compensate for emerging mutations, with assessments showing no loss in sensitivity against Omicron.
“Like all viruses, we have always known that SARS-CoV-2 would continue to mutate, and that effective testing strategies are a key to curbing the pandemic,” Thermo Fisher EVP & COO Mark Stevenson said in the release. “That is why we developed assays with additional built-in checks and balances, to ensure that clinicians, researchers and public health officials would have effective tools to accurately test for COVID-19 even as the genetic makeup of the virus evolved.”