January 26, 2023 – Roche and its subsidiary TIB Molbiol have developed a COVID-19 PCR test for researchers that detects and differentiates the latest variant of concern, XBB.1.5. The XBB.1.5 variant is prevalent in the United States and is quickly spreading to other countries. Being able to differentiate emerging variants and understand their similarities and mutations provides a basis for experts to make predictions about their spread and respond with appropriate treatment strategies. The test, VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike F486P, is for use on the LightCycler® 480 II and cobas® z 480.
XBB.1.5 is a sub-variant of a SARS-CoV-2 variant named XBB. That lineage is a recombinant of two descendants of the BA.2 lineage that began spiking in early 2022. BA.2 is also a sub-variant of Omicron. XBB’s spike protein is a group of mutations that boost the variant’s ability to evade antibodies. All Roche on-market COVID-19 tests are not impacted by this sub-variant.
The research-use-only test, VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike F486P, adds to the broad suite of COVID-19 test kits developed by Roche and TIB Molbiol. Roche and TIB Molbiol’s researchers continue to work in collaboration with partners globally to screen for new variants and emerging diseases.