New Delta-detecting PCR test to boost UAE Covid-19 fight

The highly contagious Delta variant accounted for a third of new infections in the Emirates

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A Covid-19 screening provider has developed a new PCR test aimed at identifying the highly contagious Delta variant.

Unilabs, a leading European diagnostic services firm, is working with health authorities in the UAE, as well as countries such as the UK, France, Switzerland and Spain, to track the spread of the surging mutation.

Earlier this week, officials said the Delta strain accounted for a third of all new Covid-19 infections in the Emirates.

Delta is the name given to the variant first detected last October in India.

It prompted a devastating surge in case numbers in the country and is also responsible for more than 90 per cent of new infections in the UK, according to Public Health England.

A potentially more transmissible mutation of Delta was recently discovered in India, identified as Delta Plus.

The World Health Organisation says the mutation could prove more deadly in time.

"With the Delta variant spreading fast, and well on its way to becoming the dominant strain of Covid-19 in many parts of Europe, we put our teams to work and came up with a test that can reliably identify this variant," said Timoteo Guimarães, who runs Unilabs' Covid-19 business unit.

"We are using the same techniques we created to detect the Kent variant, and we expect to quickly track any future variants, too."

Data from Unilabs' testing efforts is being used to better understand the variant, helping health officials to put measures in place to contain it.

Unilabs offers PCR testing as well as antigen and serology tests.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the group has performed more than 12 million Covid-19 tests around the world.

Unilabs recently signed an agreement to incorporate its global Covid-19 testing network into IATA Travel Pass app.

Reliable testing is key to easing restrictions across the globe and for international travel.

Mass public screening has been a focus for the UAE in its bid to stem the spread of the virus, alongside an extensive vaccination campaign.

More than 57 million PCR tests have been conducted in the country since the outbreak began.

Updated: July 01, 2021, 5:17 AM