According to a new real-world study of more than 700 people who visited a walk-in testing site in San Francisco, the Abbott BinaxNOW, a widely used at-home coronavirus test, can detect the vast majority of people who are infected with the new Omicron variant and are carrying high levels of the virus. The study was conducted by the Abbott Corporation.
Unlike P.C.R. testing, which can detect even minute quantities of the virus, BinaxNOW, like other quick antigen tests, is less sensitive than these tests. As a result, federal health authorities have lately sent conflicting signals concerning the effectiveness of such antigen tests. However, they have typically been successful in capturing those who have high viral loads and are thus more likely to be contagious than the general population.
Overall, according to the findings of the current research, which has not yet been analysed by specialists, the BinaxNOW discovered 65 percent of the infections indicated by P.C.R. testing, but 95 percent of those with the highest viral loads were recognised. The tests detected 98 percent of individuals who had symptoms and 90 percent of those who did not, according to the researchers, among those who had high amounts of the virus.
In the words of Joseph DeRisi, a biochemist and co-founder of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, “It’s operating just as it was intended.” DeRisi is also the paper’s lead author and president of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub. “With Omicron, there does not seem to be any performance loss,” says the researcher.
The findings come after some preliminary studies raised concerns about whether rapid antigen tests might be less sensitive for Omicron than for other variants — and whether saliva samples might be a better way to detect the variant than the nasal swabs currently used in antigen tests — and whether saliva samples might be a better way to detect the variant than the nasal swabs currently used in antigen tests.
Dr. Janet Woodcock, the acting commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said on Tuesday at a Senate hearing on the government coronavirus response that experts were still trying to assess how well the existing allowed at-home tests function for the new strain.
Unlike one tiny prior study, the current research, which relied on nose swabs, did not investigate whether antigen testing can identify the variation early in the course of an illness or whether the tests might function better using saliva samples. Furthermore, the researchers emphasised that the findings cannot be extended to other antigen testing, which must be examined on an individual basis.
She added that the latest research, which took place on January 3 and 4, was carried out independently of Abbott, despite the fact that the business provided BinaxNOW test kits for a previous trial, which would take place in 2020. She said that the health department donated the test kits for the new research.
Persons who have been exposed to the virus should be tested more than once over a period of a few days since the tests may not detect people who have been infected relatively recently, according to the researchers.