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Tracking omicron: A look inside a Shelby County sequence testing lab


MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) – The work is on to identify any cases of the omicron variant in the Mid-South. States are relying on sequence testing to spot the variant, and one of the most robust programs is in Memphis.

Scientists doing sequence testing in Shelby County are looking at about 20% of all positive COVID-19 tests.

They’re looking for signs of any new variants. Doctors and government officials count on this testing to help them intervene to help reduce the variant’s transmission as soon as possible.

Action News 5 got to go inside one of those sequence testing labs to see how it’s all done.

From start to finish, sequence testing takes about two days. At a lab at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center two graduate students were starting the process on Thursday of extracting the RNA, or the virus’ genetic material, from positive COVID tests.

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