Joint Research Centre: New PCR test detects Omicron variant

The Commission’s Joint Research Centre (JRC) has confirmed the validity of the Omicron-specific detection method it has developed. All laboratories carrying out PCR tests could use this new method to detect and identify Omicron without the need of an expensive and time-consuming sequencing. Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, Mariya Gabriel, said: “This new method provides opportunities for faster and cheaper detection of Omicron and will allow to better trace the new variant spread in the EU and worldwide. Science has proven to be an essential component in our fight against COVID-19. I am grateful for the tireless work of all scientists during this pandemic and beyond.” Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides, said: “In order to continue tackling COVID-19, we need the most effective and updated tools provided by science. With the rapid spread of more transmissible variants such as Omicron, the need for accurate diagnostics is as important as ever. The new testing methodology presented today by our Joint Research Centre will help to ensure that the Omicron variant is detected more quickly, and reduce the burden on the sequencing capabilities of Member States. In doing so, we can gain a better understanding of the spread of Omicron, isolate cases more efficiently, and reduce the already significant pressure on our healthcare systems”. The new PCR method proved to be highly efficient in Omicron-specific tests conducted by the JRC. This means in practice that the method provides the possibility to any laboratory operating standard PCR technology to identify the Omicron variant quickly and without the need for time-consuming sequencing. The modified reagent developed by the JRC can be ordered by the regular suppliers of the PCR test and can be implemented swiftly. Any laboratory that is carrying out PCR tests today will be able to adapt quickly. This new method will be presented today to Member States at Health Security Committee. For more details, please consult this news item.