What We Know About Omicron Variant

Written By: Biomeme Staff

  • Through in silico analysis, we’ve confirmed Biomeme’s SARS-Cov-2 assay detects all current variants of concern and variants of interest including delta and omicron.

  • Omicron was first identified in southern Africa, but where it came from is unknown. Cases stemming from this variant have since been reported in several countries across the world.

  • The omicron variant was detected very recently and there’s still many things we won’t know about its transmissibility, severity of disease, and response to immunization for weeks to come.


What We Know So Far About Omicron

Variants are a normal progression of a virus that mutates. Most RNA viruses are expected to mutate all the time. Right now, there are thousands of variants of SARS-CoV-2 floating around and most are not causing concern. Recently, the delta variant became the latest to spread quickly and put health experts on alert. However, vaccination rates have increased rapidly globally since the delta variant first surged and there’s still much to learn about the new omicron variant.

The good news is scientists in South Africa have detected and announced the B.1.1.529’s presence and sequenced its genome quickly. The downside of this is that we won’t know the full scope of risk the omicron variant brings with it for a few weeks. According to a WHO technical brief dated November 28, it is unknown how transmissible the omicron variant is in the real world, whether it can cause more severe disease, and how it might respond to naturally acquired or vaccine-induced immunity.

The omicron variant has a long list of mutations, about 50 in all. Of these, 32 pertain to the virus’ spike protein. The spike protein is a vital part that allows the virus to enter host cells, and it is also the target of most COVID-19 vaccines. This is where the speculative concern begins. The genetic profile of omicron has raised legitimate concerns, but it is being heavily monitored and there’s nothing fully confirmed.


Does The Omicron Variant Affect Testing?

Most current SARS-CoV-2 PCR diagnostics continue to detect the variant including Biomeme’s SARS-CoV-2 assay. 

 The Biomeme test detects two different SARS-CoV-2 genes, and it is conveniently multiplexed together with our RNA Process Control (RPC) for RNA extraction and RT-PCR. Each reaction well of our test already contains lyophilized master mix, enzymes, and multiplexed primer/probes for the following triplex reaction:

  • Orf1ab - Open reading frame 1ab gene

  • S - Spike gene

  • RPC - RNA Process Control

Omicron Variant  

B.1.1.529 (Pango lineageexternal icon)

Name (Nextstrainexternal icon): 21K

WHO Label: Omicron

  • A total of 166 genomes of SARS-CoV-2 lineage B.1.1.529 were downloaded from GISAID.  

  • BLASTn analysis alignments were performed with the oligonucleotide primer and probe sequences of the Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 multiplex assay. 

  • Oligonucleotide primer and probe sequences of the Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 multiplex assay Orf1ab gene target has 100% homology to 100% of the genomes analyzed (n=166). 

  • Oligonucleotide primer and probe sequences of the Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 multiplex assay S gene target has 100% homology to 100% of the genomes analyzed (n=166). 


Available PCR Tests

The Biomeme SARS-CoV-2 Real-Time PCR Test will detect all the current SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and interest. Biomeme is continuously monitoring and analyzing sequence of emerging variants of concern and will update accordingly.

 We’ve also launched our SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel 1.0 which is shelf stable, field ready, and intended for qualitative detection (research use only) of certain mutations present in SARS-CoV-2 in 3 triplex reactions:

  • Triplex 1 ( S:501Y, S:26S, S:144del)
  • Triplex 2 (S:H69/70del, S:484K, S:215G)
  • Triplex 3 (S:681R, S:452R, S:156/157del)

Interested in learning more about our Mutation Panel? Tap the button below! 

Inquire About SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel 1.0

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