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‘Some rapid antigen Covid tests may not detect Omicron’

Washington: Some of the rapid at-home Covid-19 tests available in the US may not accurately pick up the new super mutant Omicron variant, the country’s top infectious disease expert Anthony Fauci said.

According to Fauci, the PCR tests, often considered the ‘gold standard’ for Covid testing, are accurate for detecting Omicron, the Daily Mail reported.

“We’re getting preliminary information that not all of the diagnostic tests will be accurate with Omicron,” Fauci said while addressing a virtual Chamber of Commerce Foundation audience on Thursday.

“Some, and many of the commonly used ones appear to pick up and detect Omicron quite well, we’re hearing. We’re in the process of doing large screening to determine which of these antigen point of care, rapid tests, still maintain their accuracy of diagnosis.

“But clearly there are some that don’t. We’re trying to find out those that don’t reflect an accurate result. And if we do, make sure that those tests are not used to diagnose Omicron,” he noted.

Rapid tests that are unable to detect the Omicron variant make for a worrying prospect, because of false results that could potentially lull people into a false sense of security.

Meanwhile, Fauci also noted that Omicron will become the dominant Covid-19 variant in the US within a few weeks, CNBC reported.

“It is the most transmissible virus of Covid that we had to deal with those far. It will soon become dominant here. That’s one thing we know,” Fauci was quoted as saying.

He urged people who are not yet inoculated against Covid and those who are eligible for a booster to receive their doses. He described the Omicron variant as “a threat in front of us right now”.

“When you look at the pace of the infections now, things will get worse as we go into the depth of the winter,” he said. “And with omicron breathing down our back, things could get really bad, particularly for the unvaccinated.

Though Omicron is more contagious than previous variants by spreading to at least 77 countries, it is not yet clear whether it causes more mild or severe Covid than the past strains.

President Joe Biden’s top medical advisor said that those who are vaccinated and have taken their booster shots “will be relatively well protected at least against severe disease.”

Fauci also said the US is experiencing a resurgence of the Delta variant, the report said.

“Delta is still a serious problem. I mean, we’re looking over our shoulder at omicron, which will assume a dominant role very soon, I would imagine within a period of a few weeks as we go into January,” Fauci explained.

“When you look at the Delta that we’re dealing with right now, we’re having an increase in every parameter, an increase in cases, an increase in hospitalisation and deaths are still at 1,100. So we are in for a difficult situation, particularly among those who are unvaccinated. They are very vulnerable.”

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