Roche’s newly acquired subsidiary TIB Molbiol has developed three new test kits to detect mutations in the new Omicron variant of Covid-19.

The three new Research Use Only (RUO) test kits include VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike S371L S373P, VirSNip SARS Spike ins214EPE and VirSNip SARS Spike E484A.

They are intended to help researchers differentiate the unique mutations in the Omicron variant from other Covid-19 variants.

Roche noted that the VirSNiP variant kits are designed for use on LightCycler and cobas z 480 analysers.

They use quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR) technology to help researchers improve variant detection and viral research.

The new RUO test kits will help evaluate the spread of new Covid-19 variants as well as observe the potential impact of vaccines, public health interventions and therapies on the spread of variants.

Roche Diagnostics CEO Thomas Schinecker said: “The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be an evolving and complex situation, and Roche is committed to responding to healthcare’s biggest challenges.

“The teams at TIB Molbiol have worked around the clock since the new variant emerged, and today we are able to offer a test that can specifically identify the novel B.1.1.529 Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variant to help better understand its spread and behaviour.

“There is still much to learn about Omicron. It’s critical to identify Omicron quickly and accurately, which will help inform ongoing research – including the further development of therapeutics and vaccines – and potentially stop or slow down the advance of this new variant.”

The company claims that the VirSNiP variant kits are among the first to detect the new Omicron variant mutations.

After analysing the new Omicron variant’s sequences, Roche has also concluded that all its PCR tests can identify Covid-19 as well as its new variant.

Last month, Roche launched cobas 5800, a new molecular diagnostics system, to expand access to testing and improve patient care.