Episode Summary


In less than 2 months since it was discovered, the omicron variant of SARS-CoV-2 has become the dominant variant of the virus, causing an unprecedented rise in the number of cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and elsewhere. The emergence of this variant has quickly led to some surprising claims about diagnostic testing for omicron and a renewed appreciation of the importance of sequencing the viral genome for typing purposes. We will address several questions about testing for omicron, including:

  • Are rapid antigen tests sensitive for detection of omicron? And should people swab their throats to increase the sensitivity of these tests?
  • How does the emergence of omicron change our use of polymerase chain reaction tests for SARS-CoV-2?
  • How can we definitively identify the omicron variant and do we have the needed capacity for this?

This episode of Editors in Conversation is brought to you by the Journal of Clinical Microbiology and hosted by JCM Editor in Chief, Alex McAdam, and Dr. Elli Theel. JCM is available at jcm.asm.org and at twitter.com/JClinMicro.



  • Discordant SARS-CoV-2 PCR and Rapid Antigen Test Results When Infectious: A December 2021 Occupational Case Series. Preprint at medrxiv.org.
  • Assessment of the analytical sensitivity of 10 lateral flow devices against the SARS-CoV-2 omicron variant. In press at Journal of Clinical Microbiology. journals.asm.org.

Visit journals.asm.org/journal/jcm to read articles and/or submit a manuscript.

Follow JCM on Twitter at @JClinMicro.

Subscribe to Editors in Conversation (free) on Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Android, Spotify or by email.