‘Sprout surveillance' should reveal whether Omicron variant is already here

‘Sprout surveillance’ should reveal whether Omicron variant is already here

Photo: ANP

To determine whether new variants of the coronavirus, such as the Omicron variant, are in the Netherlands, the National Institute for Public Health and the Environment (RIVM) conducts a so-called germ surveillance. To that end, 1,000 random samples of positive PCR tests from across the country are analyzed in labs every week. Individual cases, such as the 61 travelers from South Africa who tested positive, are not analyzed separately.

The samples are examined for the building blocks from which the virus is built, according to the RIVM. That’s called a sequence analysis. These building blocks are compared with other samples, both from the Netherlands and abroad. In this way it can be determined whether a certain variant is present in the Netherlands or not.

This laboratory investigation takes more time than that of a ‘normal’ PCR test. “Within 24 hours we have the results of a PCR test, with a sequence analysis it takes longer,” said a spokeswoman for the Rotterdam hospital Erasmus MC, where one of the laboratories that analyzes the samples is located. “I am not yet able to say how long this research into the Omicron variant will take.”

According to RIVM, it is estimated that there are already thousands of variants of the virus. The new corona variant Omicron was labeled as worrisome by the World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday. The variant was first established in South Africa. The Netherlands has temporarily imposed an entry ban for southern Africa because of the variant, which has already been established in Belgium and probably also Germany.

‘Sprout surveillance’ should reveal whether Omicron variant is already here
Source link ‘Sprout surveillance’ should reveal whether Omicron variant is already here

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