Covid-19: a new test deployed to detect the Omicron variant



Omicron will soon be easier to detect. At least this is the objective of the General Directorate of Health (DGS), which announces via a message ” urgent “, published on December 17, a “Updating of the screening doctrine” PCR tests, implemented as of December 20.

→ EXPLANATION. Against Omicron, the weapon of compulsory vaccination

Thus, the detection of Covid-19, the screening test to identify the variant – delta or beta – and the sequencing of the genome – the sine qua non for detecting the Omicron variant – will be carried out simultaneously, thanks to a new test developed by Eurobio Scientific. “We took a month to make this three-in-one kit. We first validated it through an internal process, with preclinical studies, then the National Medicines Safety Agency checked our CE marking file, so that it can circulate freely in the European Union ”, explains Denis Fortier, CEO of the group.

According to Public Health France, 347 cases of the Omicron variant were detected on the national territory as of December 17, much less than in the United Kingdom, where 16,000 people have been infected with this new form of the virus, according to the British Health Safety Agency. But the French figures could be underestimated. “In France, we sequence a lot less. This could explain why we detect so few ”, says Lionel Barrand, president of the National Union of Medical Biologists. With the new doctrine wanted by the government, the detection of Omicron would therefore be faster and more efficient. “All PCR tests will be gradually replaced by this new screening policy », Specifies Denis Fortier.

Insufficient amount of tests

This ” good news “ however worries certain laboratories, which face supply problems. “Materially, it is impossible to implement this screening from December 20, because the suppliers are not ready”, testifies Lionel Barrand. In question ? “A lack of anticipation on the part of the government, which warned us at the last moment”, continues the president of the union. “Today, we don’t have the reagents to detect Omicron. Deliveries are extremely slow, so we have doubts about December 20 ”, adds François Blanchecotte, president of the National Union of Medical Biologists.

→ EXPLANATION. Omicron and vaccination: the questions raised by the new variant

“For now, it is true that there are no other suppliers than us”, confirms Denis Fortier. Before tempering immediately: “It will happen quickly, because we know that other competitors are working on it (…). “ For the CEO of Eurobio Scientific, one thing is nevertheless certain: his group can “Provide 150,000 tests per day, from the site in Les Ulis (Essonne)”. A number which seems largely insufficient: on average, in December, 800,000 tests were carried out every day in France.

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