PCR performance in the SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant of concern?

Swiss Med Wkly. 2021 Dec 10;151:w30120. doi: 10.4414/smw.2021.w30120. eCollection 2021 Dec 6.


The new SARS-CoV-2 Omicron variant (B.1.1.529) has been recently declared a Variant of Concern due to a series of important mutations in the viral spike protein and especially in the receptor-binding domain. While investigations into the spread of this new variant are ongoing, the first cases have been detected in Switzerland. Important questions have been raised: (1) Will the PCR assays commonly used to detect SARS-CoV-2 still work for the Omicron variant? (2) Can specific PCR features, e.g. S-gene dropout, be used to identify potential Omicron samples? In this minireview we provide current knowledge on the Omicron variant and guidance on its PCR validation.

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • SARS-CoV-2*

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants