How does the Covid test, which tells you what variant you have taken in a few hours

It’s called CoVarScan and it’s a rapid test that can identify regions of the viral genome that differ between different variants of the Sars-Cov-2 coronavirus.

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How do I know which type of Covid I have had? Above all, what tests will tell if an infection is caused by one of the new, highly contagious strains of Omicron? With the re-emergence of the new epidemic, many even in Italy are wondering what kind of test is currently capable of detecting variants, and above all, whether these tests are available to the public or if they are only carried out, as is the case in reality. in specialized centres. In our country, this type of test is called terminology sequence, is actually carried out in the format of the Istituto Superiore di Sanità (ISS) in some molecular genetics laboratories authorized to carry out diagnostic activities in conditions of biosecurity, which makes the sequencing not open to all and leaves our country with fixed volumes. The levels of other countries, such as the United Kingdom, Denmark and Germany.

The situation is different in the United States, more precisely in Texas, where a research team from UT Southwestern Medical Center led by pathologist Jeffrey Sue Riley developed A new type of rapid test capable of identifying different variants of Sars-Cov-2 for which a patent application has already been submitted. The test is called CoVarScan, he can identify which variants are circulating in the community within a few hours and, as Dr. So Relle explained, he is able to detect the emergence of new variants. “It also has implications for individual patients when dealing with variants that respond differently to treatmentsSelect a pathologist.

How does a rapid test that recognizes variants of Covid . work?

Compared to conventional sequencing, which determines the exact structure of the virus genome by analyzing the entire genome (“Which takes time and moneySo Relle identifies, using advanced equipment and analyzes, to sequence the entire RNA found in viruses, The CoVarScan test focuses on eight specific regions of the Sars-Cov-2 genome which usually differ between viral variants. In particular, the new test detects small mutations and measures the length of repetitive genetic regions that tend to grow and shrink as the virus evolves. The developers explain that the method is based on polymerase chain reaction (PCR), a common technique in most pathology laboratories, to transcribe and quantify RNA at these eight sites of interest, starting with samples taken with common nasal swabs.

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To test how CoVarScan works, the Dr So Relle team ran Testing on more than 4000 samples of positive nasal swabs collected at UT Southwestern from April 2021 to February 2022, from asymptomatic or asymptomatic patients. The tests were validated by sequencing the entire viral genome, which is considered the gold standard with which any other type of test must be associated to be valid, with 96% sensitivity and 99% specificityAs stated in the study published in the scientific journal Clinical Chemistry.

The test is specifically identified and marked Delta, Mu, Lambda and Omicron variants, including the BA.2 . subvariableSome researchers have dubbed it “Omicron stealth” because it is “invisible” to molecular testing alone.

A common criticism of this type of test is that it requires constant modification of new variables but CoVarScan You don’t need any modifications (With the emergence of new strains, ed) in more than a year – Dr. So Relle added -. The test still works very well, but if we need to modify it in the future, we can easily add up to 20 or 30 additional test hotspots.“.

As mentioned, Dr. So Relle plans to continue development CoVarScan as a commercial test He has a pending patent application based on this work.

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