Oklahoma Public Health Lab is trying to find out if Omicron is in the state – FOX23 News

TULSA, Okla. – The state’s public health laboratory is trying to find out if the COVID-19 Omicron variant is already in the state.

State epidemiologist Jolianne Stone said that even without the complete sequencing of a sample’s genes, the lab is finding other ways to detect the presence of Omicron in incoming samples.

The main thing looked for is an increase in the number of spike proteins on a sample. A spike protein is a protrusion protruding from the main body of the virus that can be seen under a microscope.

“With Delta, we haven’t seen so many [spike proteins], but with Omicron, we can say it because there is more, and that’s what we’re looking for initially, ”Stone said.

Stone said that by studying the spike proteins, they can identify samples whose genes need to be sequenced. Gene sequencing studies the DNA of a virus to learn more about its composition. Different variants have different genetic sequences due to the changes that occur when the virus mutates.

So far, no case of Omicron has been reported in Oklahoma, but 17 other states have reported positive cases.

The variant is expected to be highly contagious, but symptoms currently appear to be mild in adults under the age of 55.

As FOX23 News reported, many locally, state and even nationally believe Omicron is already here but has yet to be detected. When the virus mutated in southern Africa to create the Omicron variant, it spread around the world through international air travelers to the rest of the world at least a week before it was discovered and confirmed by people. global health officials.

The state’s public health laboratory is asking all testing sites to submit as many samples as possible so they can get a better idea of ​​a variant’s progress across the state, but despite an executive order from the Governor Kevin Stitt mandating a certain quantity of positive samples to be submitted by an organization collecting samples, the tests have slowed down and the number of samples to be studied is less than desired.

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