Nov 29 (Reuters) - Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc said
on Monday its COVID-19 diagnostic tests can accurately detect
the new coronavirus variant Omicron that has prompted several
countries to shut their borders.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) last week classified the
Omicron variant as a SARS-CoV-2 "variant of concern," saying it
may spread more quickly than other forms.
Thermo Fisher's TaqPath COVID-19 assays can report accurate
results even in the case where one of the gene targets is
impacted by a mutation, the company said in a statement.
"This assay can be used not only to successfully detect
it can also be used as a proxy for the
variant," Mark Stevenson, chief operating officer at Thermo
Fisher Scientific, said in an interview.
Stevenson said this is the only COVID-19 diagnostic test
that is both authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
and can be used to indicate if a case is caused by the Omicron
He added that Thermo is prepared to increase its production
of tests to meet demand from countries in Africa and elsewhere
as they work to track the spread of the new variant.
Other COVID-19 tests, including from Roche Holding AG
and Abbott Laboratories, can also be used to
diagnose positive cases of COVID-19 caused by the variant,
though only Thermo Fisher has so far confirmed that its test can
be used to help identify the variant.
"We have conducted an assessment of the Omicron variant and
were confident our antigen and PCR tests can" identify positive
cases of COVID-19 caused by Omicron, a spokeswoman for Abbott
Test samples must still be sent to a lab for sequencing to
confirm that the case was caused by Omicron and not another
variant with similar features, such as the Alpha variant,
Omicron, which was first detected in Southern Africa, has
now been confirmed in Australia, Belgium, Botswana, Britain,
Denmark, Germany, Hong Kong, Israel, Italy, the Netherlands,
France, South Africa, and the United States' neighbor to the
The WHO said it was working with technical experts to
understand the potential impact of the variant on existing
countermeasures against COVID-19, including vaccines.
(Reporting by Radhika Anilkumar in Bengaluru and Carl O'Donnell
in New York; Editing by Arun Koyyur and Andrea Ricci)