Can PCR Differentiate Types of Corona Virus Variants?

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Can PCR Differentiate Types of Corona Virus Variants?
Can PCR Differentiate Types of Corona Virus Variants?

Currently, PCR is the standard or gold standard method that is considered the most accurate for diagnosing COVID-19. However, along with the emergence of various variants of the Corona virus, many people may question whether the PCR test can distinguish the types of variants of the Corona virus?

The emergence of new variants of the Corona virus, such as the Delta variant, may worry most people. The reason is, some of the new variants of the Corona virus are known to be able to multiply and spread faster, and it is easier to infect someone.

Can PCR Differentiate Types of Corona Virus Variants? - Alodokter

Not only that, the new Corona virus variant also has the potential to cause more severe COVID-19 symptoms.

So far, apart from a physical examination from a doctor, the diagnosis of COVID-19 still relies on the PCR test method. This is because the PCR examination can detect the presence of the genetic material of the Corona virus.

Can PCR Differentiate Types of Corona Virus Variants? Here's the Answer

The PCR test or polymerase chain reaction is an examination technique that is quite accurate and sensitive to detect the genetic material of certain organisms, such as viruses. Currently, PCR tests are widely used to diagnose people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19, namely the Corona virus or SARS-CoV-2.

However, to detect new variants of the Corona virus, it is necessary to expand a special method, namely DNA sequencing or genomic sequencing of the Corona virus. Unfortunately, this PCR and sequencing method is only available in specialized laboratories that examine the genetic pattern and mutation of the virus.

In addition, genomic sequencing examinations also generally require more time, which is about 1−2 weeks. This time is much longer than the PCR test, which results in 1-2 days or even a few hours, depending on the laboratory.

So, the PCR test method carried out in various clinics or hospitals at this time of course can detect whether there is a Corona virus or not, both the initial type of Corona virus and the new variant, but cannot determine whether a person is infected with the Alpha variant Corona virus., Beta, Gamma, Delta, or lambda.

However, if a person is tested positive for COVID-19 in a PCR test, the sample being examined may be sent to an institution in charge of monitoring the genetic change pattern of the Corona virus.

At the institution, the samples sent will be examined using the genomic sequencing method to detect what types of Corona virus variants are emerging.

However, the results from the examination of the genetic material of the Corona virus are usually not attached to the results of the PCR tests given to patients, because they are only for research purposes.

The Accuracy Level of PCR Tests for Detecting New Variant Corona Virus

Although the Corona virus continues to mutate, several studies have so far stated that the PCR test is still quite good and effective for diagnosing COVID-19.

In addition, until now, the symptoms and treatment for COVID-19 due to the initial variant of the Corona virus and those caused by the Alpha, Beta, Gamma, Delta, Lambda, and Kappa variants of Corona virus are still the same.

To suppress the spread of the more contagious variant of the Corona virus, continue to comply with he alth protocols by wearing a double mask, maintaining a physical distance of at least 1 meter from other people, washing hands regularly, and avoiding crowds.

You are also recommended to get the COVID-19 vaccination, because to date, research has shown that several types of COVID-19 vaccines are still effective in preventing the new variant of COVID-19.

If you still have questions regarding the effectiveness of the PCR test to diagnose COVID-19, especially the new variant, you can ask your doctor directly through the ALODOKTER application.

In this application, in addition to being able to chat with doctors, you can also make an appointment with a doctor at the hospital if you need an in-person examination.

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