The World Health Organization (WHO) recently labeled a new strain of the COVID-19 virus as a variant of concern, due to the sudden rise in cases all around the world. This variant is called the Omicron variant, first identified in South Africa on November 24, 2021.
It spread rapidly, and on December 15, 2021, the Philippines reported its very first Omicron case. One month later, the Department of Health (DOH) would announce that Omicron has replaced Delta as the country’s predominant variant. By January 19, 2022, the DOH would confirm the first two documented deaths due to Omicron, and 492 new cases would bring the total of Omicron cases in the Philippines to 535.
It is clear that the effects of the Omicron variant need to be monitored closely. But what exactly is Omicron, and why should we be concerned about it?
The Omicron variant is shown to primarily target the upper respiratory tract, and the latest medical research suggests that Omicron is 2.7 to 3.7 times more infectious and contagious than Delta. It has 37 amino acid-altering mutations in its spike protein, which may be the reason behind its infectiousness and strength against current COVID-19 vaccines.
The Center for Disease Control (CDC) has pointed out that testing can help stop the spread of COVID-19 because it informs individuals and their loved ones of their condition, allowing them to administer the proper care and safety protocols. Tests also help the government and medical institutions monitor the state of the country.
Because of this, it is highly encouraged that individuals, especially those who belong to more vulnerable sectors (such as the elderly or those with comorbidities) get tested for COVID-19 at the onset of COVID-related symptoms, as they are most at risk of contracting severe infection.
TruLaboratories Corp. (TruLab), the distributor of SD Biosensor in the Philippines, offers one of the only two WHO-approved antigen kits in the country. The SD Biosensor COVID-19 Antigen kit is one of the top-performing antigen test kits, and is also one of the fastest when it comes to results, with 93.1% sensitivity and 100% specificity as validated by the Research Institute of Tropical Medicine (RITM) in FDA Advisory 2021-2094.
As of January 8, the Standard Q Antigen Professional Nasal Kit is available for purchase upon presenting a doctor’s prescription or a healthcare PRC ID at any Watsons branch nationwide.
Getting tested for COVID-19 is not something to be terrified of – in fact, it will only give us more knowledge and understanding of how the virus behaves and evolves. The Omicron variant likely will not be the last variant, but the tools we have at our disposal, such as COVID-19 testing, will be able to help us identify when something new comes, and will better equip us to fight against it.
To find out more about TruLaboratories Corp.’s COVID-19 testing related products, you may visit their website at https://www.trulaboratories.com/.