Roche, together with its subsidiary TIB Molbiol, has developed a Covid-19 PCR test for use by researchers to detect and differentiate the latest variant of concern, XBB.1.5.

The PCR test, dubbed VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike F486P, is designed to work on the LightCycler 480 II and cobas z 480 devices.

It is a research use only test that specifically targets the unique mutation F486P identified within the XBB.1.5 Omicron sub-variant.

The VirSNiP SARS-CoV-2 Spike F486P test uses throat and nasopharyngeal swabs, sputum, saliva or gargle solution as samples.

Roche Diagnostics CEO Matt Sause said: “Roche continues to develop timely diagnostic innovations related to Covid-19 by providing valuable insights – helping scientists and physicians understand this new strain, how it differs from other variants, and the impact it may have on public health.

“Since the start of this global health crisis, Roche has been committed to bringing effective diagnostic solutions to address unmet needs to healthcare communities worldwide.”

According to the company, the XBB.1.5 variant is prevalent in the US and is rapidly spreading to other countries.

XBB.1.5 is a sub-variant of a SARS-CoV-2 variant, dubbed XBB, whose spike protein feature a group of mutations that boost the variant’s ability to evade antibodies.

The lineage of XBB.1.5 is a recombinant of two descendants of the BA.2 lineage.

BA.2 is also a sub-variant of Omicron, which was prevalent in early 2022.

The ability to differentiate emerging variants and understanding their similarities and mutations will help experts to predict its spread and respond with effective treatment plans.

Roche said that the research-use-only test adds to the broad suite of Covid-19 test kits it has developed together with TIB Molbiol.