How do COVID-19 PCR Tests React to Mutations?

The corona pandemic is something the world won’t soon forget. While many hoped a “return to normalcy” would return sometime in the future, many are nervous to hear about the different variants circulating the world. Although the variants share similar properties with the current virus, some differences with these mutations may pose problems during corona detection.  

Are Viral Mutations Normal? 

Although this may seem like the first time many individuals hear about it, viral mutations are a normal phenomenon. Essentially, during the replication process, a virus can easily make mistakes now and again. Minor errors sometimes don’t fail to replicate, but rather, a very tiny genetic difference between the original and “offspring.” 

A majority of these mutations add no difference, although some mutations alter the virus in some way.  

There are thousands of different Sars-CoV-2 mutations. However, many of them just demonstrated no significant changes in treatment, transmission, or symptoms. However, the “delta” and “lambda” variants are a bit problematic.  

In addition to reports that those mutations cause more extreme cases or are potentially more contagious, detecting it may be a problem.  

Why Are There Potential Detection Problems? 

Mutations are changes in the genetic sequence of an organism (or a virus). Genetic material plays a crucial role in the detection of infection. Tests work through finding different ways to identify the particular viruses in samples.  

However, what happens when the genetic material is not the same? When a sequence used to identify the diseases is the part that mutates, tests will no longer alert the analysis that the virus is present.  

It poses some problems, and many experts have concerns that these viruses will mess up detections. When tests don’t detect the viruses, there is no way for people to know that they have them, especially if they are asymptomatic.  

People fail to quarantine or attend significant events without even thinking about the consequences (because they assume they are safe). In turn, they pass the disease off to healthy people and further contribute to heightened numbers during the pandemic.  

It is so crucial to make sure these tests are as accurate as possible. Extensive testing strategies, such as PCR testing, look at quite a few different pieces of genetic material. This technique of cross-checking many different sequences versus just a single identifying strand reduces the chance of missing something due to a slight change in the genetic sequence.  

While mutations may complicate things, many experts are confident that current strains are detectable through PCR testing.  

Our community at PCR-Dx is here to help you learn about the services available to you. Our cutting-edge facilities and state-of-the-art equipment have everything you need for affordable and accurate results. We aim to bring you fast results during these uncertain times. You can count on us to provide reliable services you can trust and depend on. Contact us today for more information about the testing options that will work with your institution.  

 

Source: https://www.the-scientist.com/news-opinion/coronavirus-mutations-could-muddle-covid-19-pcr-tests-68772