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Omicron: Germany to study reliability of rapid antigen-test

IANS | January 10, 2022 12:37 PM

LONDON: German researchers are set to study how far rapid antigen tests are able to detect the highly transmissible Omicron variant of Covid-19, media reports said.

"We do not know exactly how well these tests work for Omicron, " health minister Karl Lauterbach was quoted as saying on public broadcasting channel ARD on Sunday.

Lauterbach added that the results of the assessment would become available within the next few weeks.

It was clear, however, that "the alternative not to test at all ... would be far too dangerous, " said Lauterbach, who is also a scientist and physician.

According to the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) for infectious disease, Omicron now accounts for 44 per cent of coronavirus infections in Germany, the Guardian reported.

On Sunday, RKI registered 36, 552 newly reported Covid infections within 24 hours, three times the number a week earlier.

Late last month, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also released a statement saying rapid antigen tests appear less sensitive to Omicron than previous variants.

"Early data suggests that antigen tests do detect the Omicron variant but may have reduced sensitivity, " the FDA said at the time.

Omicron was first discovered in South Africa and Botswana in late November. Since then the fast spreading strain has been found in more than 100 countries.

A recent study, not peer-reviewed yet, also showed that some rapid antigen tests for Covid-19 may not reliably detect the Omicron variant during the first few days of infection, even when a person is shedding the virus in high enough quantities to be contagious, preliminary evidence hints, Live Science reported.

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