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Walgreens’ COVID-19 Index reports PCR test data on BA.2 variant

Data from the latest Walgreens COVID-19 Index indicates that as of Feb. 21, 6.2% of all current Omicron cases are presumed to be the BA.2 variant. 
walgreens covid index

Despite declines in COVID-19 cases across the United States, PCR test data from Walgreens COVID-19 Index indicates that as of Feb. 21, 6.2% of all current Omicron cases are presumed to be the BA.2 variant. 

The Walgreens COVID-19 Index is an interactive COVID-19 tracking tool that is among the first to uniquely identify the spread of current and emerging variants in near real-time.  

[Read more: Walgreens intros COVID-19 index tracking activity by state]

Data captured in the Walgreens COVID-19 Index can track the presumed spread of the Omicron variant within 24 to 48 hours, more quickly than other methods, the company said. 

In addition to a national view, data can be distilled by state. The index is based on proprietary data from PCR tests administered by Walgreens and analyzed by testing partner Aegis Sciences.

[Read More: CVS Health’s latest digital service provides access to at-home COVID-19 test kits]

According to Walgreens and Aegis Sciences COVID-19 PCR testing data as of Feb. 21:

  • 6.2% of all positive Omicron cases are presumed to be the BA.2 variant.
  • States with the highest volume of presumed BA.2 cases in the last three days include California (23.4%), Illinois (14.0%), Texas (7.2%), New Jersey (7.3%), Florida (10.0%).
  • The BA.2 Omicron sub-variant has been spreading across the United States and Puerto Rico since its initial detection in early January 2022. Laboratory findings demonstrate that BA.2 does not display S-gene positive – making it harder to identify as Omicron than the original, dominant strain, BA.1.
  •  The ‘Omicron Sub-Variant Trend’ graph and ‘Top COVID-19 Variants’ table in the Walgreens COVID-19 Index have been modified from a 7-day to a 3-day moving average to calculate variant proportions, increasing sensitivity and timeliness of surveilling the prevalence of COVID-19 variants. An updated algorithm, adjusted for the 3-day average of Delta and other variants, also has been validated to track presumed BA.2 cases, allowing for near real-time tracking of the most recent COVID-19 variants.

The company noted that data regarding the spread of COVID-19 variants continue to be an important aspect of the understanding of viral transmission.

[Read More: Walmart highlights COVID-19 vaccination successes in report]

As new variants emerge, it will be critical to continue to track this information and help health departments curtail the COVID-19 pandemic by predicting which communities are most at risk, the company said. 

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