South Korea develops diagnostic technology to detect Omicron in four hours

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SEOUL – The world’s first polymerase chain reaction reagent capable of detecting five major variants of the coronavirus, including the Omicron variant, was developed in South Korea. The adoption of the new reagent allows the Omicron variant to be identified in three to four hours.

By the end of December 2021, local governments will be able to detect the five main variants of the coronavirus, including the stealth version of Omicron, thanks to a single polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that uses the new reagent, the Centers Korean Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement. The conventional PCR method could only identify four variants – Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. An additional genome analysis test for Omicron lasted up to five days.

The disease control agency has focused on developing national diagnostic reagents by cooperating with the private sectors since the new, highly contagious variant of the coronavirus was first reported to the World Health Organization ( WHO) on November 24. A medical advisory committee has been organized by the KCDC. to accelerate the adoption of the new PCR reagent. “We hope that the new PCR reagent will effectively prevent the spread of Omicron by quickly detecting the new variant of the coronavirus,” said KCDC director Jeong Eun-kyeong.

Various domestic companies have focused on developing diagnostic kits that can quickly detect coronavirus. In June 2020, BioSewoom, a producer of molecular genetic testing kits, also developed a genetic diagnostic reagent capable of giving accurate results within 50 minutes. Real-time PCR kits from healthcare company Labgeonomics can detect the virus in 35 minutes. Government data showed that around 196 million national coronavirus diagnostic kits were exported to some 150 countries from April 2020 to August 2020.

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