FACT FINDERS: How many omicron cases are in Arizona?

KOLD News 5-5:30 p.m. recurring
Published: Dec. 31, 2021 at 7:10 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - With so many new COVID cases in Arizona you may be wondering, how many are omicron?

Some of the most up-to-date data on omicron cases in our area is coming out of Arizona State University. They have a graph that shows COVID positive PCR tests and how many are suspected to be Omicron. It rises from 1% on Dec. 8 to 87% as of Dec. 30.

Again, these are suspected cases of omicron. To confirm a case is a certain variant, they do genome sequencing looking at the order of genetic information in a virus, but that takes time. This method at ASU, specifically looks for what is called the “S gene dropout.” It is much faster and a good indication it is omicron and not delta.

”That particular PCR observation is characteristic of most omicron cases. It is also observed in other variants, but we haven’t seen those variants in a long time. The alpha variant for example, we don’t see that very much anymore. All of the ‘S gene dropouts’ that we’ve seen have always been omicron at least in the last little bit,” said Dr. Joshua LaBaer with Arizona State University.

Dr. LaBaer says their lab will also sequence those cases to confirm.

To track variants circulating in Arizona, the state health department uses tgen data which is updated on the 21st of each month.

For a look at the t-gen sequencing dashboard or the ASU dashboard click on these links:

Arizona COVIDseq Tracker (tgen.org)

Critical COVID-19 trends | Biodesign Institute | ASU

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