TULSA, Okla. — Local scientists and health leaders identified the COVID-19 omicron variant in Tulsa sewage samples on Wednesday.
OU Health announced the findings came from samples collected in Tulsa on Dec. 17.
The find comes after Tuesday's announcement from the state health department announced the first reported case of the quickly-spreading variant in Oklahoma.
“By collecting wastewater from multiple communities across the state, we have a sampling network that represents more than 1.2 million Oklahomans,” OU Dr. Jason Vogel said.
“That has allowed us to sample more than 30 percent of the state’s population and detect the Omicron variant in wastewater as it starts to move into the state.”
People infected with COVID-19 shed the virus in their waste before developing symptoms, which scientists use for testing and to get an early look at potential surges and new variants.
“The detection of Omicron in Tulsa’s sewage highlights the power of wastewater testing as an early signal and complement to other surveillance approaches," said Megan Diamond, manager and wastewater lead at The Rockefeller Foundation.
The Rockefeller Foundation and the team at the Pandemic Prevention Institute are proud to support this cutting-edge work.”
OU Health says omicron appears to be more easily transmitted than the delta variant that caused the virus's late-summer surge, but early evidence suggests the symptoms that come with the omicron variant might be less severe.
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