Evaluating Delta and other COVID variants to ensure test effectiveness

Evaluating Delta and other COVID variants to ensure test effectiveness
Diagnostics Testing | Aug. 10, 2021

Abbott is intently monitoring the mutations of COVID-19 so we can ensure our tests can detect them. We have conducted a thorough analysis of the new variants, including the Delta variant, and we are confident that our tests remain effective. The Delta variant, along with all other variants of concern, are primarily defined by mutations in the spike protein. Abbott's diagnostic tests do not rely on the spike proteins to detect the virus, which means that these new variants do not affect test performance.

Based on our analysis, the sensitivity and specificity of our tests, including our BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests, are not impacted by the Delta variant.

At Abbott, we have an entire team of scientists dedicated to monitoring COVID-19 variants. To date, we have carefully analyzed over 700,000 sequences from 45 different variants and none of these strains were identified to carry a mutation in the target region of our tests. Our scientists were already evaluating Delta variant sequences before there was a known case in the U.S. because we know how important it is that our tests can detect new variants regardless of where they are found.

The process for evaluating variants and stress-testing our diagnostics doesn't stop there. We are actively collecting real-world samples and using viral cultures to verify that our tests continually detect new variants. Through collaboration with the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition partners, we've had access to samples from all over the world. By proactively collecting and evaluating variant samples from different countries, we can ensure our tests are effective at detecting new strains even before they spread globally.

As future SARS-CoV-2 mutations are identified, we will continue our rigorous process to stress test our diagnostics -- both through an examination of their genetic sequence to determine if there are viral mutations in the target area of our tests, as well as testing real-world samples. We will also continue working with our global partners to identify new variants and share our learnings back with the scientific and public health communities.

Importance of testing

The best way to combat the Delta variant and prevent the virus from becoming even more dangerous in the future is to do everything we can to slow infections now.

Even as vaccinations become more widespread, variants have fundamentally changed the landscape and trajectory of the pandemic across the globe. Now more than ever, testing remains a critical part of our COVID-19 response to keep communities open, employees in the workplace, students in school and continue travelling. Our top priority remains making tests available to those who need them most.

This story was originally published on Jan. 27, 2021 and updated on August 10, 2021.


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