Labs throughout U.S. check for COVID Omicron variant

Labs throughout america are testing to see the place the Omicron COVID-19 variant will emerge first. The U.S. is sequencing 80,000 optimistic PCR checks per week to check for variants and find out how quick the variant is spreading — and the way infectious it’s. 

About 2,000 of these sequences happen on the Pandemic Response Lab in New York Metropolis, which “CBS Mornings” lead nationwide correspondent David Begnaud visited.

The lab is “sequencing the COVID genome of hundreds of optimistic COVID samples,” stated Jon Laurent, head of analysis and growth on the lab.

“Our turnaround time right here, as soon as we get a pattern in, is about three days,” stated Laurent. 

Laurent stated the lab expects to complete sequencing tons of of samples Wednesday afternoon and may know whether or not they have discovered any traces of the Omicron variant.

The testing of samples comes because the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention is rising COVID testing for folks at 4 of the busiest airports in america over considerations concerning the Omicron variant in vacationers.

Surveillance at John F. Kennedy Worldwide Airport, Newark Liberty Worldwide Airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta Worldwide Airport and San Francisco Worldwide Airport has been expanded for particular worldwide journey.

The CDC stated it’s working to switch testing necessities for vacationers coming into america. 

Proper now, vacationers need to be examined inside 72 hours of departing. However the White Home could quickly announce vacationers be examined someday earlier than boarding flights no matter their vaccine standing or the state of COVID within the nation the place they’re coming from.

Well being officers proceed to emphasize the significance of Individuals getting vaccinated in opposition to the coronavirus and receiving their booster photographs. Regardless of the specter of Omicron, the CDC stated it’s ready to “battle the variant”

“We now have much more instruments to battle the variant at the moment than we had presently final 12 months,” stated CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky.

A type of instruments could possibly be an at-home antiviral capsule developed by Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics that might be prescribed to battle the worst COVID-19 signs.

A Meals and Drug Administration advisory panel voted Tuesday to endorse the capsule. The company nonetheless must grant emergency use authorization. 

The Delta variant stays the dominant variant and accounts for greater than 99% worldwide. Laurent stated it took six to eight weeks to develop into the vast majority of optimistic instances in New York Metropolis. 

“Considering again on that, I believe it was most likely six to eight weeks from the time we first type of noticed it, after which actually noticed it take off. It took off in a short time,” stated Laurent. 

He added that “it may undoubtedly be” inside a month or two earlier than Omicron turns into the bulk.

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