New COVID Variants EG.5 (Eris), FL.1.5.1 (Fornax), and BA.2.86 (Pirola) are Spreading. Can Diagnostic Test Kits Detect New SARS-COV-2 Variants? - Vitrosens Biotechnology - Human and Animal Health Rapid Test Kits

New COVID Variants EG.5 (Eris), FL.1.5.1 (Fornax), and BA.2.86 (Pirola) are Spreading. Can Diagnostic Test Kits Detect New SARS-COV-2 Variants?

29 August 2023

New COVID Variants EG.5 (Eris), FL.1.5.1 (Fornax), and BA.2.86 (Pirola) are Spreading. Can Diagnostic Test Kits Detect New SARS-COV-2 Variants?

new covid variant eg 5

As the battle against COVID-19 continues, the virus’s ability to adapt and mutate has kept health authorities on high alert. Recent reports of new COVID-19 variants spreading across the globe have raised questions and concerns about the future trajectory of the pandemic. This blog will delve into the latest developments regarding these variants and what they mean for public health.

How to Track the Variants of COVID-19?

How to Track the Variants of COVID 19

Health authorities are closely monitoring the emergence of three new COVID-19 variants. While the current levels of hospitalizations and deaths remain below past peaks, a steady increase in cases has been observed over the past few weeks. Despite this rise, public health officials assert their preparedness to handle the seasonal uptick in infections, assuring that COVID-19 tests and upcoming vaccines will remain effective against these new variants.

Currently, three notable COVID-19 variants are being tracked. The EG.5 variant, colloquially referred to as “Eris,” has become the dominant strain in the United States, accounting for approximately 20.6% of new infections as of August 18 [1]. Close behind is the FL.1.5.1 variant, known as “Fornax,” comprising around 13.3% of U.S. infections [1]. Both EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 share a mutation known as F456L, which is believed to contribute to their increased transmissibility.

their increased transmissibility.

However, the appearance of the BA.2.86 variant, nicknamed “Pirola,” has sparked particular concern. With many mutations in critical parts of the virus, researchers are accelerating investigations to understand the potential risks posed by this highly mutated strain. Although BA.2.86’s prevalence is small, its distinctive genetic makeup demands attention.

Are the Symptoms Consistent among the Variants?

Are the Symptoms Consistent among the Variants

Despite the emergence of these new variants, COVID-19 symptoms appear to remain broadly consistent. While there have been claims of variations in symptom presentation, health officials have downplayed dramatic changes compared to earlier Omicron variants. No evidence of increased disease severity from EG.5 has been reported by the World Health Organization (WHO). The enduring nature of symptoms suggests that the reported cold and flu-like signs – such as cough, headache, muscle aches, runny nose, and fatigue – remain prevalent.

In the case of BA.2.86, its impact on symptom severity remains uncertain. The limited number of reported cases indicates a range of symptom experiences, from mild to none.

What is the Effectiveness of Currently Used Tests on New Variants?

Thankfully, current COVID-19 tests appear to be effective against these new variants. Collaborative efforts between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the National Institutes of Health have yielded positive results, indicating that tests remain reliable in detecting EG.5 and FL.1.5.1. Should the variants become more prevalent, health authorities remain vigilant, prepared to assess and adapt testing protocols [2].

However, BA.2.86’s extensive mutations introduce an element of uncertainty [2]. While the current testing landscape seems stable, the potential for changes exists if this variant gains prominence. Vigilance and continued monitoring will be vital to adapting testing strategies as needed.

Are the Vaccines Safe for the New Variants?

Are the Vaccines Safe for the New Variants

The anticipated rollout of fall 2023 COVID-19 vaccine boosters instills hope for continued protection against these variants. Vaccine manufacturers are confident that the upcoming vaccines and boosters will effectively counter EG.5 and FL.1.5.1 due to their genetic similarity to the XBB.1.5 variant targeted by previous revisions [3]. The WHO underscores the importance of selecting antigens that provide broad immunity to anticipate potential viral evolution.

Moderna and Pfizer reported positive preliminary results from their clinical trials, indicating a significant boost in neutralizing antibodies against these variants [4]. Based on evidence and advisory input, the CDC anticipates that the updated vaccines with a monovalent XBB.1.5 composition will offer robust protection.

As we navigate this ever-evolving landscape, we must remember that the virus’s mutations and variants are not entirely within our control. However, our collective efforts in vaccination, testing, and preventive measures can significantly impact. Staying informed, adhering to public health guidelines, and promoting community health remain our most potent tools against the uncertainty posed by these new COVID-19 variants.

How To Use the RT-PCR Test Kit for SARS-CoV-2 or Subvariants?

How To Use the Rapid Test Kit for SARS CoV 2 or Subvariants

There are two different test methods for diagnosing SARS-CoV-2 and its subvariants. These are Rapid Test Kits and RT-PCR Kits. The rapid test method is usually more basic and easier to use than the RT-PCR method; however, the RT-PCR method is more accurate and specific to the desired variant. For Omicron and its subvariants like Eris, F.L.1.5.1, real-time PCR testing kits leverage cutting-edge technology for detecting SARS-CoV-2 and differentiating the strain contracted in a single test.

Using a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test kit involves several steps to detect the presence of the virus responsible for COVID-19 accurately. It is important to note that procedures may vary slightly between different test kits, so always refer to the specific instructions provided with the kit. Here is a general guide on how to use a SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test kit:

Materials You Will Need:

  • SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR test kit
  • Sample collection swab (nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal)
  • Collection tube with transport medium
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves, mask, and gown
  • Timer
  • Biohazard waste disposal container

Procedure:

  1. Preparation:
  • Put on your personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure your safety and prevent contamination during the process.
  1. Sample Collection:
  • Depending on the test kit, you’ll use either a nasopharyngeal (NP) or an oropharyngeal (OP) swab for sample collection.

If using an NP swab:

  • Tilt the patient’s head slightly backward.
  • Insert the swab into one nostril until you feel resistance, about 2-4 cm (1-2 inches).
  • Rotate the swab several times to collect cells from the back of the nose.
  • Gently remove the swab and place it into the collection tube.

If using an OP swab:

  • Gently rub the swab against the back of the throat, avoiding the tongue and teeth.
  • Collect enough secretions to moisten the swab visibly.
  • Place the swab into the collection tube.
  • Make sure to follow the specific instructions provided with your test kit for accurate collection.
  1. Transport Medium:
  • Ensure the swab is placed into the collection tube containing the provided transport medium. This medium preserves the integrity of the sample during transportation to the testing facility.
  1. Sample Handling and Transportation:
  • Seal the collection tube tightly to prevent leakage.
  • Place the tube in the biohazard bag provided with the kit.
  • Follow the transportation guidelines provided in the kit. Many kits require samples to be transported at a specific temperature and within a certain timeframe.
  1. Testing Preparation:
  • The laboratory technicians will take it from here. They will extract genetic material (RNA) from the collected sample and perform the RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) test to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2.
  1. Results:
  • Depending on the lab’s workload and the specific test, results may be available within a few hours to a few days.
  • You’ll receive your test results through the method specified by the testing facility (e.g., email, phone call, patient portal).

It is essential to follow the instructions provided by the test kit manufacturer and any guidelines provided by healthcare professionals to ensure accurate sample collection and reliable results. If you are administering the test to someone else, explain each step gently to help them feel comfortable during the process.

How To Use the Rapid Test Kit for SARS-CoV-2 or Subvariants?

Using a SARS-CoV-2 rapid test kit involves several steps to detect the presence of the virus responsible for COVID-19 quickly. Here is a general guide on how to use a typical rapid antigen test kit. Please note that the steps might vary based on the specific manufacturer and product, so always refer to the instructions provided with the kit for accurate usage.

Materials You Will Need:

  • SARS-CoV-2 rapid test kit
  • Swab (nasal or oral)
  • Extraction buffer or solution
  • Timer
  • Personal protective equipment (PPE), such as gloves and mask
  • Biohazard waste disposal container

Procedure:

  1. Preparation:
  • Put on your personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure your safety and prevent contamination during the process.
  1. Sample Collection:
  • Depending on the test kit, you might use a nasal or oral swab for sample collection.
  • Follow the specific instructions in your test kit for proper sample collection.
  • Typically, a nasal swab involves inserting it into the nostril to a certain depth and rotating it to collect a sample. You might rub the swab gently against the inside of the cheek or throat for an oral swab.
  1. Sample Transfer:
  • After sample collection, follow the instructions to transfer the collected sample into the extraction buffer or solution provided with the kit.
  • Mix the swab in the solution to ensure the sample is properly mixed.
  1. Test Application:
  • Use the dropper or applicator provided in the kit to transfer the mixed sample onto the test device according to the kit’s instructions.
  • Some kits might require applying a specific number of drops onto the designated area of the test strip.
  1. Wait for Results:
  • Follow the recommended waiting time as stated in the instructions. This is typically around 15-30 minutes.
  • Place the test device on a flat surface and avoid touching it during waiting.
  1. Interpreting Results:
  • Once the waiting time is over, observe the test device for the appearance of lines, colors, or symbols. These will indicate whether the test is positive, negative, or invalid.
  • Interpret the results according to the instructions provided with the kit. Different kits might have variations in how the results are displayed.
  1. Disposal:
  • Dispose of used materials, such as the swab and the test device, in a biohazard waste container according to proper waste disposal guidelines.

 

Always remember that rapid antigen tests have different sensitivities and specificities than PCR tests. The accuracy of the test may vary, and it is essential to follow the manufacturer’s instructions closely for reliable results. If you have access to a healthcare professional, they can guide you on using the specific test kit you have.

REFERENCES

[1] Sharma, S., Shrivastava, S., Kausley, S. B., Rai, B., & Pandit, A. B. (2023). Coronavirus: a comparative analysis of detection technologies in the wake of emerging variants. Infection, 51(1), 1-19.

[2] Jacobs, J. L., Haidar, G., & Mellors, J. W. (2023). COVID-19: challenges of viral variants. Annual Review of Medicine, 74, 31-53.

[3] Yamasoba, D., Uriu, K., Plianchaisuk, A., Kosugi, Y., Pan, L., Zahradnik, J., … & Sato, K. (2023). Virological characteristics of the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron XBB. 1.16 variant. The Lancet Infectious Diseases, 23(6), 655-656.

[4] Khoury, D. S., Docken, S. S., Subbarao, K., Kent, S. J., Davenport, M. P., & Cromer, D. (2023). Predicting the efficacy of variant-modified COVID-19 vaccine boosters. Nature Medicine, 29(3), 574-578.

footer-logo

Vitrosens Biotechnology is a high-tech company in Turkey founded for the development, manufacture, and delivery of in vitro diagnostic devices (IVD) to the world.
Follow USVITROSENS on Social Media
For our updated news and products follow us on social media.

vitrosens logo new

Vitrosens Biotechnology is a high-tech company in Turkey founded for the development, manufacture, and delivery of in vitro diagnostic devices (IVD) to the world.
vitrosens.com
Human Health
Animal Health
Follow USVITROSENS on Social Media
For our updated news and products follow us on social media.