MIAMI, Dec. 2, 2021 /PRNewswire/ -- Today, the Minnesota Department of Health announced it has found the first known case of Omicron from a Minnesota resident. This marks the second identified case in the U.S. of the new variant, classified by the World Health Organization last week as a Variant of Concern.
The variant was identified in a sample collected using a PCR saliva test, provided to Minnesotans for free through a partnership with the State of Minnesota and Vault Health. Since fall of 2020, Vault has partnered with the State of Minnesota to run dozens of testing clinics across the state, large-scale testing in schools and for state employees, as well as an at-home testing program. Through this partnership, Minnesota residents have access to PCR saliva tests from Vault Health, which are the gold standard for COVID testing and capable of identifying the latest Omicron variant.
"We are grateful for the collaboration with the State of Minnesota, which allows for one of the most robust variant surveillance programs in the country," said Jason Feldman, CEO of Vault Health. "Our tests are capable of detecting Omicron, which is an important tool for learning more about this latest variant. This allows public health officials to track whether Omicron is present in a community, how quickly it's spreading, and how fast it may be impacting case growth. We're proud of this relationship, and our wonderful lab partners, and our ability to help Minnesota health officials in the fight against COVID."
Vault's PCR saliva tests are then processed by several lab partners located across the United States. Those lab partners are able to offer sequencing services at no additional cost.
As reported by the State of Minnesota, the person with the Omicron variant is an adult male. He developed mild symptoms on Nov. 22 and sought COVID-19 testing from Vault Health on Nov. 24. The sample was quickly identified as a potential case of Omicron through the routine processing done on all COVID tests, and the indicator known as the spike gene drop.
Feldman says this underscores the importance of continued testing using PCR testing.
"Public health systems are blind to what's happening with Omicron if people are using only antigen tests," continued Feldman. "A PCR test is capable of detecting positive cases of COVID as well as all variants, including Omicron - antigen can only detect a positive or negative. Anyone who has symptoms and needs an immediate result should continue to use antigen tests, available widely from Vault and many others. However, a PCR test is the gold standard and capable of providing invaluable information to public health officials about variant spread. Vault has provided around 10 million COVID tests since the start of the pandemic and will continue working to make testing widely available."
Vault Health has been a trusted leader in the fight against COVID-19. The telehealth company brought the first FDA-authorized at-home PCR test to market, and since then has delivered Roughly 10 million COVID-19 tests to consumers, employers, public health agencies, and school systems. Vault accelerates better health outcomes through faster diagnosis, innovative clinical research, and digital-first care delivery. Vault delivers care to patients on their terms, virtually or physically, by leveraging its national clinician network and data-driven tech platform to power its offerings, including Clinical Logistics, Clinical Research, and Clinical Care. Learn more at https://www.vaulthealth.com/covid
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SOURCE Vault Health