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VERIFY: No. There is not a test that specifically determines the different variants

Since the pandemic began, many of us have gotten a COVID test. But how do you know if you have a specific variant?

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — If you are one of the many people who have taken a COVID-19 test, you know it'll give you a positive or negative. With all these variants circulating, will you know if you have the Omicron variant for instance?

We put a call out for questions and heard back on Twitter, from @bigkat859 who asked, 'what test is used to isolate the different variants?'


So we went to our experts and asked: Is there a test you can take that tells you what variant you have?


  • Dr. Leslie Wolf, Louisville Metro Health and Wellness 
  • Andy Beshear, Kentucky Governor


This needs context.

There is no test to determine the different types of variants.


Let's start with the tests, there are three options for testing. The most common tests indicate if someone is positive or negative. These are the tests you get at drive-up locations or through your doctor's office.

A portion of those positive tests can be run through detection technology. That determines if a positive case is a known variant or not.

An even smaller number of cases are 'sequenced'. This is the process that discovers new variants, but it is very expensive, requires a lot of analytics and takes longer than variant detection technology.

Here's Governor Beshear's response to this question, "For us we already sequence a certain number of cases of samples, no matter what. that gives us an idea of what is out there. For a person that takes a test and is positive it is important that they call their doctor." "healthcare providers are going to be in the best position to notice if your case seems different and if they need to get a direct sample and get it sequenced."

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