On 24th Novermber, 2021, B.1.1.529, also known as Omnicron (1) was first time reported by the South Africa to the World Health Organization (WHO) as new variant of coronavirus. Numerous mutations in the spike protein of Omnicron virus has been reported and found to have potential for increased transmissibility, more resistance against therapeutic agents, or immunity induced by vaccines (2). WHO has also designated Omnicron as a variant of concern (3). The increase in numbers of Covid-19 cases in some provinces of Canada has made the Canadian Government to start bracing for the emergency situation that could result from the spread of Omnicron variant.
Although, majority of the cases in Canada were of the Delta variant but as the evidence suggests, the chances of getting infected with Omnicron virus is more in those with previous history of coronavirus infection or those who have been administered with both the doses of vaccines (4). This also increases the need for booster dose in Canada because since its first identification, dozens of Omnicron cases have been reported in Canada. It has also been postulated by the Canadian Officials that due to its transmissibility, Omnicron can easily replace the delta variant making Omnicron the dominant variant in Canada and by mid-January, daily infection rate could hit 26,600 (5).
Similar to many countries, Canada has also taken measure with the spread of Omnicron variant specially applying travel restriction to the African countries. The Canadian Federal Government has advised its citizens to avoid unnecessary traveling outside of the country. All the incoming travelers will be subjected to coronavirus testing and quarantine. The rules for testing and self-isolation differ in different provinces that need to be followed in addition to the federal regulations. The federal policy requires everyone who is aged 12 years or above to show evidence of vaccination before boarding international of domestic flights while traveling from any airport in Canada (6).
Rapid Antigen Testing is a promising approach to screening the coronavirus over lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. There are many advantages of rapid antigen testing. The first benefit is availability of rapid antigen testing as a diagnostic test on point of care (POC). Secondly, the handling does not require a skilled personal or a dedicated instrument. It is cost efficient and has a short turnaround time. Usually the delivery time of results could be between five to thirty minutes (7) The use of rapid antigen testing gives opportunity of on-spot identification of coronavirus infection. The accuracy and cost effectiveness of rapid antigen testing makes identification efficient and quick for both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals.
Boson Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Point of Care is a Lateral Flow Assay (LFA) comparatively detecting the nucleocapsid protein of the coronavirus from the specimen taken from the nasal swab. It is Health Canada Approved providing results in 15 to 20 minutes. Boson Rapid SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Test Point of Care has been able to successfully detect the Omnicron variant in the lab studies. The specificity of Boson Rapid Antigen Test is 98.04% whereas its sensitivity is 93.75%.
- O’Toole Á, Scher E, Underwood A, Jackson B, Hill V, McCrone JT, et al. Assignment of epidemiological lineages in an emerging pandemic using the pangolin tool. Virus Evol. 2021 Dec 1;7(2):veab064.
- CDC. Science Brief: Omicron (B.1.1.529) Variant [Internet]. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 21]. Available from: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/science/science-briefs/scientific-brief-omicron-variant.html
- World Health Organization. Classification of Omicron (B.1.1.529): SARS-CoV-2 Variant of Concern [Internet]. [cited 2021 Dec 21]. Available from: https://www.who.int/news/item/26-11-2021-classification-of-omicron-(b.1.1.529)-sars-cov-2-variant-of-concern
- UK Health Security Agency. SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern and variants under investigation in England Technical briefing 31 [Internet]. 2021. Available from: https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/1042367/technical_briefing-31-10-december-2021.pdf
- Tasker JP. COVID-19 infections are on the rise and omicron could quadruple daily case counts, federal modelling says | CBC News [Internet]. CBC. 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 21]. Available from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/covid-infections-rising-federal-modelling-1.6281026
- CBC News. Travelling within Canada? You may face different rules on testing, quarantine depending on your destination | CBC News [Internet]. CBC. 2021 [cited 2021 Dec 21]. Available from: https://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/provinces-territories-travel-restrictions-covid-1.6284713
- Mattiuzzi C, Henry BM, Lippi G. Making sense of rapid antigen testing in severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) diagnostics. Diagnosis. 2021 Feb 1;8(1):27–31.