Health and Fitness

An analysis on the efficacy of RT PCR test in detecting omicron in Gurgaon & other cities

The last two months in India were testing times when the major cities like Delhi, Gurgaon, Mumbai, etc. were reeling under a severe variant of SARS-CoV-2, captured first in South Africa in early November, naming as Omicron. The cases have taken an overall dip, yet several infected people are still recovering, and over 80% of patients are home quarantined. The hospitalization rate also remains down with dominating variant, Omicron, unlike the previous variant of coronavirus, Delta, and Alpha where the fatality rate was slightly more than 2%. However, persistent testing and following covid protocols are essential and should remain the priority of citizens’ DNA copies.

The testing and sequencing remain important to detect the presence of the virus and observe any mutations. With over 14 lakh tests done on 9th February 2022 across the country, some reports do suggest that RT-PCR tests in Gurgaon, Delhi, Mumbai, Jaipur, and many other cities may not necessarily differentiate between Omicron and other variants. This poses a huge cause of concern as capturing the latest variant Omicron can help mitigate the spread.

Let’s analyze the efficacy of the RT-PCR test in detecting Omicron.

How the RT-PCR test detects the virus?

The main idea behind the RT-PCR test in Gurgaon or anywhere in the world is to copy and increase the targeted transcribed viral DNA in the infected person’s body to capture the presence of a virus. Increasing is vital instead of spotting the minute virus amongst huge genetic information. And that is why copying DNA is essential.

The nasal and throat samples are collected as these are the areas where the virus initially gathers. The sample is mixed with a certain chemical to remove everything else and capture the RNA aspect, which may or may not contain the virus’s RNA along with the person’s own. Immediately, this RNA is converted or reverse transcribed to DNA. Now, additional complementing DNA is added to it so they get attached to transcribed viral DNA. 

After placing this mixture in an RT-PCR machine, where a chemical reaction takes place that increases the number of DNA strands and creates thousands of copies. Further, a fluorescent dye is released into the mixture that gets attached to the marker labels or spike protein through which the virus enters into human cells. It helps determine the viral load in the computer screen after each cycle of creating more DNA copies. The lesser the number of cycles reaching a fixed fluorescent level, the more the severity of viral load.

Thus, RT-PCR tests are highly reliable and continue to be the most accurate way available for detecting coronavirus.

Can RT-PCR effectively identify the Omicron variant?

As the RT-PCR tests target the different mutations and more than one spike in protein to ensure accuracy, it is seen that with Omicron, a certain mutation was not getting captured. With the following research, the World Health Organization (WHO) presented that a phenomenon called S gene dropout or failure is noticed, and if it is used as a marker for this variant with more genome sequencing results, no omicron virus can escape the RT-PCR test results. 

Presently, with RT-PCR tests in Gurgaon, Delhi, and all other cities in India targeting all three genes, most diagnostic centers can detect the presence of the Omicron variant completely.

What’s the Latest?

In a breakthrough event recently, Mumbai-based TATA Medical and Diagnostics Ltd (TATA MD), in collaboration with the Indian Council of Medical Research, has developed an RT-PCR Kit that can differentiate the Omicron variant from the Delta, Alpha, or any other previous variant. The kit is named Omisure, and it is said to provide results within 4 hours from the testing. 

It is a huge step forward to the country’s common efforts to fight against SARS-CoV-2. Capturing the variant can help mitigate the spread and control the disease. What works for this kit to detect Oimicron is that it targets two regions of the S or the spike gene. This gene is only responsible for the spike protein that helps the virus enter the human cells before infecting it.

Conventional RT-PCR tests target the Enveloped (E), the Nucleocapsir (N), and the S genes. However, it often misses the mutations at S genes, where Omicron is found. The absence of the S gene likely suggests Omicron’s presence. This phenomenon was first highlighted by the WHO and is called the S gene dropout or Target Failure. Omniture kit will target this aspect.

Another target – S gene mutation amplification is what the kit will depend upon. It easily and meticulously detects mutations in the S gene. Today, most of the kits used globally are either made for mutation-specific detecting or gene dropout. Omniture is India’s answer to filling this gap and a kit that combines both.

If you are planning to get yourself or your loved one tested, choose a renowned diagnostic lab, for instance, SpiceHealth. Click here to book online SpiceHealth’s RT-PCR test in Gurgaon, Jaipur, or any nearby city. Their RT-PCT test cost in Gurgaon is as low as INR 299*.

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