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Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Roanoke’s Fralin institute uses genome sequencing to look for omicron variant in Southwest Virginia | Local News

This happened with the delta variant, which was first discovered in India in late 2020. It now accounts for nearly all coronavirus cases in the U.S.

South African public health officials detected the omicron variant for the first time in late November.

“Thank goodness the folks in South Africa were very transparent and told the world quickly when they isolated this variant,” the Fralin Institute’s executive director, Michael Friedlander, said. “Now we’re looking for that with our whole genome sequencing and rapid mutational analysis.”

The research institute’s lab in Roanoke receives samples from health districts across Southwest Virginia and the rest of the state. They first determine whether the sample is positive or negative for COVID-19.

Positive samples are then analyzed using a rapid mutational analysis. Researchers analyze only the regions of the gene that are relevant to the variant, such as omicron, and look to see whether all mutations associated with that variant are present. Results are available in as soon as 12 hours.

Some positive samples are also selected to undergo whole genome sequencing, which can give a more complete picture of the virus with all of its mutations. Samples are selected based on different characteristics. If the patient has been sick for a long time or has had a severe case, or if the patient traveled to a particular area, the sample could be selected for further study.

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