A study in Australia tested six RATs on the BA.4, BA.5 and BA.2.75 from Delta and Omicron. The researchers observed that at high viral load the kit gave similar results on different samples as well.
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The Conversation: A member of your family covid infected Is. You are in contact with him and are also feeling the symptoms of Covid in yourself. In-spite of this rapid antigen test Means your report comes negative in RAT. Now you must be thinking that are you really Covid negative or is the test really working as well as it should. Actually, there are many reasons behind you not getting the expected results from RAT. But there is also a factor whether RAT SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variants of can be detected.
We know very well that the virus changed its form several times during the pandemic. This means that the virus mutated many times. This is the reason why health officials and researchers are investigating whether new versions of the virus can still be detected with the help of RAT. However, there is good news from the limited data available so far. That is, all RATs freely available for home use in Australia appear to be capable of detecting Omicron. The bad news is that still not all RATs have been used independently. You could be one of them.
What does mutation have to do with RAT?
RATs detect covid infection by detecting specific viral proteins. However, there is cause for concern that as the virus evolves, it continues to produce altered viral proteins. Because of this, the ability of the test to detect covid and detect old variants will be affected. Can the Omicron be detected sufficiently with the RAT? The issue has been raised by health officials and researchers in several countries, including the Netherlands, Belgium and Chile, as well as Australia.
A study in Australia tested six RATs on the BA.4, BA.5 and BA.2.75 from Delta and Omicron. The researchers observed that at high viral load the kit gave similar results even on different samples. However, the overall sensitivity of a kit was less than the minimum sensitivity requirement. Currently, some international studies have found that RATs are less effective in detecting Omicrons when the viral load is low.
Australia’s regulator the Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) initially relied on test data provided by RAT manufacturers to determine whether the test kits met World Health Organization (WHO) standards. As new variants of the virus emerge, the TGA requires RAT manufacturers to test them based on WHO standards and send test data.
But TGA also started independent test of RAT, so that it can get information about how well it detects new variants of Kovid. They tested the RAT’s ability to detect wild-type viruses of the Delta variant and the Omicron variant. The TGA did not clarify which strains of Omicron were included in the investigation. The TGA lists individual tests (or group tests) after analyzing them. This list is publicly available. It will be updated after additional data comes.
Many information is found in the list
You can get all the information about the RAT kit which is present in your house. In this the name of the brand, name of the manufacturer and batch number can be seen. Find the kits that have self-tested written on them in the list. In fact, the list also mentions the different types of test kits and their results. There is also the most important column in the list, in which it is told whether the kit has passed the independent validation or not. To get information about the kit, do pay attention to the four ticks. This shows that this kit has passed the quality test along with minimum standards for detection of variants of original virus, delta and omicron. If there is a single cross in the list, it means that this kit has not passed that point of verification.
Have you not received your RAT result?
If a product comes in two versions for self-test and is identified as a type of test kit in a health care facility, only one version can be tested. If so, the † symbol means that the test was performed on only one version and you can use those results for your testing. For this you check the registration number and see whether the correct matching is happening or not.
The last column shows what kind of data the manufacturer has given. In fact, some manufacturers test the sensitivity of their kits to Omicron’s BA.4 and BA.5 strains only.
What do we not know from the list?
If there is no tick or cross on your test it does not mean that this kit cannot detect Omicron. It may also happen that the independent validation of the kit has not been completed or it has not been updated in the list. In such cases no conclusion can be drawn. The list also doesn’t tell us which strain of Omicron was tested. However, in some cases the test data was released by the RAT manufacturers. The list only has data till October. As we are seeing that the cases of sub-variant infection have increased. This is the reason why we don’t really know whether this is affecting the sensitivity of tests that have been validated recently.
I’ve struggled with this list, but now what? If your brand has all the ticks on the RAT, especially Omicron, it means that it has been rated as having an acceptable sensitivity. If you are buying a RAT, do check the list whether the brand has been tested for sensitivity. If your test report has been locked in the cupboard for a long time, then before using it, do check the expiry date. Also, consider whether the kit was stored at the correct temperature.
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