Michigan state health officials are testing Omicron variant

LANSING, Michigan (WILX) – The Michigan Department of Health and Human Services said it was only a matter of time before the new COVID-19 variant hit Michigan.

November 29, 2021: Coronavirus report: Michigan reports 25,329 new cases and 137 deaths in past five days

Michigan State Laboratory was one of the first in the country to test for COVID-19, and now it is already performing tests to see if new variants are spreading in the state.

“What scientists are doing is they are looking at all the genes that make up the virus, the Sars-COVID-2 virus, and looking for changes,” said Dr. Natasha Bagdasarian, medical director.

The state has analyzed more than 31,000 samples it already had looking for Omicron and no cases have been identified.

Related: Mid-Michigan health officials urge residents to stay vigilant as COVID cases rise

But Dr Bagdasarian said not all positive tests are sequenced, only those that might be of concern to health officials.

“As the tests increase, the sequencing expands at the same time. From now on, we will pay special attention to people with a travel history, ”said Dr Bagdasarian.

MSU microbiology professor Dr Victor DiRita said this genetic mapping has become more common over the past decade.

“Being able to generate a DNA sequence has really opened up our ability to study pathogens in ways that we couldn’t do before,” said Dr. DiRita.

He expects new variants not to start here in the United States.

“What we’re going to continue to see is that the worrisome variants are unlikely to come from the United States, where 80% of the population is vaccinated,” Dr DiRita said.

Dr Bagdasarian said it was important for people to keep getting tested.

“Our percentage of positivity is quite high. Our percentage of positivity hovers around 18%. this tells us that there are not enough tests. We don’t cast a net wide enough and we may miss cases in the community, ”Dr Bagdasarian said.

The Delta variant is still the dominant variety in Michigan.

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