At the end of December 2021, local governments will be able to detect all five major coronavirus variants including the stealth version of Omicron through a single polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test that uses the new reagent, Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) said in a statement. The conventional PCR method could only identify four variants -- Alpha, Beta, Gamma and Delta. An additional genome analysis test for Omicron took up to five days.
The agency for disease control has been focusing on the development of domestic diagnostic reagents by cooperating with private sectors since the new highly contagious coronavirus variant was first reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) on November 24. A medical advisory committee was organized by KCDC to accelerate the adoption of the new PCR reagent. "We hope the new PCR reagent will effectively prevent the spread of Omicron by quickly detecting the new coronavirus variant," KCDC's director Jeong Eun-kyeong was quoted as saying.
Various domestic companies have focused on the development of diagnostic kits that can rapidly detect a coronavirus. In June 2020, BioSewoom, a molecular genetic test kit producer, developed a gene diagnostic reagent capable of yielding accurate results in 50 minutes. Healthcare company Labgeonomics' real-time PCR kits can detect the virus within 35 minutes. Government data showed that about 196 million domestic coronavirus diagnostic kits were exported to some 150 countries from April 2020 to August 2020.
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