Abbott has been intently monitoring the mutations of COVID-19 so we can ensure our tests can detect them. We have already conducted an assessment of the Omicron variant and we’re confident our rapid and PCR tests can detect the virus. While the Omicron variant contains mutations to the spike protein, Abbott’s rapid and molecular tests – antigen and PCR – do not rely on the spike gene to detect the virus.
Abbott is currently manufacturing more than 100 million COVID-19 rapid and PCR tests a month to help support increased need for testing around the globe.
The process for evaluating variants and stress-testing our tests doesn’t stop with the current variants. We are actively collecting real-world samples and using viral cultures to verify that our tests continually detect circulating strains because we know how important it is that our tests can detect new variants regardless of where they are found.
Through Abbott’s Pandemic Defense Coalition, we have a network of research, academic and public health collaborators strategically placed around the world that are actively sequencing viruses to look for the next viral threat including COVID variants. Having this established network allows for the quick sharing of new information and the ability to provide samples quickly – within days rather than the typical weeks or months – so we can verify our tests. We are actively engaged with our partner in South Africa on Omicron. This type of global collaboration is critical to fighting these variants and the pandemic.
We also have an entire team of Abbott scientists dedicated to monitoring COVID-19 variants. To date, we have carefully analyzed over 1.4 million sequences from 63 different variants and none have impacted the ability of our diagnostic tests to detect the virus. And as soon as the Omicron sequence was made available, our scientists worked non-stop to evaluate it and determined the mutations would not impact the ability of our rapid and PCR tests to detect it.
Variants have fundamentally changed the landscape and trajectory of the pandemic across the globe. Now more than ever, testing remains a critical part of our COVID-19 response and Abbott’s top priority remains making reliable, accessible tests available.