Chief scientist at Utah Lab helps identify Omicron in Utah

Dec 4, 2021, 11:33 AM
chief scientist Utah lab Salt Lake company corona virus...
The Omicron variant was spotted by chief scientist at the Utah Public Health Laboratory. (Image credit: Shutterstock)
(Image credit: Shutterstock)

SALT LAKE CITY– The Chief Scientist at a Utah lab helped spot the Omicron variant in Utah. Utah Public Health Laboratory‘s Dr. Kelly Oakeson explained identifying a new variant is a complex process.

“We’re sequencing about 1500 samples about every other day and up until today they were all the Delta variant,” said Dr. Oakeson. 

The Chief Scientist at the Utah lab added, “we have to sequence that species. We have to identify it is not one of the current variants of concern. Then, there is a process for submitting this new variant. If we have some ideas that it has acquired more mutation or mutation that we think are very concerning and that it doesn’t fit in with the current file genetic evidence.”

Dr. Oakeson also discussed part of the process for evaluating a variant. The doctor advised the evidence is submitted to a group for review to determine if there is a new variant.

If it doesn’t fit current file evidence a new name will be created. If the variant is severe and spreading quickly it will be sent to the CDC and WHL to classify concern level according to Dr. Oakeson. 


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Chief scientist at Utah Lab helps identify Omicron in Utah