COLUMBUS, Ohio (WSYX) — At Ohio State's sequencing lab, researchers like Sara Koenig are hard at work testing for COVID-19 variants.
"It's really important to continue doing surveillance because we need to know when Omicron, if and when it takes over delta, what percentage will it exist in the population, what's next is really important," said Koenig who is the director of COVID-19 advanced technologies at OSU College of Medicine.
The sequencing process is complex with very specific detail, but the team basically takes positive non-contagious samples from OSU hospitals and tests them to see how much of the virus is present. Then they amplify the virus so they can read it, and run it through a machine called the Ion Chef that loads samples onto a chip and tells the team what type of variant is detected.
So far they haven't found Omicron.
"All of the sequences that we’re getting, we’re uploading into these international databases and so you have these labs all over the world working together to try and understand how the virus is evolving and we’re all sharing information so that these things can be identified as quickly as possible," Koenig said.
As we wait for more research and data -- like what's being done right here in Columbus -- there are still many unknowns about the newest variant and how dangerous it could be.
"Looking at the specific mutations that this variant has, it appears that it could evade immunity some of the early data suggests that it is highly transmissible and it may have an easier time getting into cells, but that is all just the scientist best guesses based on what we know about previous strains," Koenig said.