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MAKO Medical Detects Three Cases of COVID-19 Omicron Variant in U.S.

·5 min read

North Carolina lab identified the new variant in samples from Colorado, Pennsylvania and Maryland

MAKO Medical COVID-19 Sequencing

Lauren Moon, NGS and R&D Lead Scientist, Genomics at MAKO Medical works on the team supporting COVID-19 sequencing for the CDC.  Photo location: MAKO Medical laboratory in Henderson, NC.
Lauren Moon, NGS and R&D Lead Scientist, Genomics at MAKO Medical works on the team supporting COVID-19 sequencing for the CDC. Photo location: MAKO Medical laboratory in Henderson, NC.
Lauren Moon, NGS and R&D Lead Scientist, Genomics at MAKO Medical works on the team supporting COVID-19 sequencing for the CDC. Photo location: MAKO Medical laboratory in Henderson, NC.

Raleigh, North Carolina, Dec. 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- MAKO Medical Laboratories, a national reference laboratory and leader in COVID-19 testing, today announced that it has detected three cases of the Omicron variant in the United States.

The samples came from Colorado, Pennsylvania and Maryland. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) confirmed the presence of the Omicron variant, also known as B.1.1.529, in the samples.

“From the outset of the pandemic, our MAKO Medical team has worked hard to establish a cutting-edge COVID-19 testing and sequencing process that would detect and distinguish variants of concern ahead of the curve,” said Josh Arant, Chief Operating Officer, MAKO Medical. “We hope our ability to expeditiously detect the Omicron variant will aid public health authorities in controlling the spread of the virus. We will continue to work closely with the CDC to monitor any additional emergence of the variant.”

Earlier this year, MAKO Medical formed a comprehensive partnership with the CDC to provide next-generation sequencing of SARS-CoV-2. Since January 2021, MAKO has utilized sequencing processes to analyze a group of more than 2,500 samples for sequencing per week from tests conducted across more than 40 states. To date, these efforts have identified the occurrence of multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, including the B.1.1.7, B.1.351, B.1.429, B.1.617.2 and now the B.1.1.529 variants.

MAKO Medical also partnered with leading life sciences company Thermo Fisher Scientific to leverage its high-capacity sequencing platforms, which provide high-quality sequencing data. Thermo Fisher confirmed that its polymerase chain reaction (PCR) TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit*, and TaqPath COVID-19 CE-IVD RT-PCR Kit*, which test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2, are not impacted by the emerging B.1.1.529, or Omicron variant, enabling accurate test results.

As Arant explained, this technology allows MAKO Medical to single out samples that contain characteristics specific to the novel Omicron variant.

“The qPCR assay our MAKO Medical team deploys checks for all three targets in a COVID-19 positive test result, the N gene, S gene, and ORF1ab,” said Arant. “This is important because unlike the delta variant, which produces a signal for all three targets, early indication shows that the omicron variant is unique in that it will only produce a signal for the N gene and the ORF1ab gene. The TaqPath assay can be used as a proxy for the Omicron variant.”

Since the emergence of COVID-19, scientists have monitored the surge of variants and mutations of the virus. While a natural process for any virus, mutations of SARS-CoV-2 represent an outsized risk due to the impact that they may have on virus containment and vaccine efficacy.

Founded in 2014, MAKO Medical is a College of American Pathologists (CAP) accredited laboratory that operates more than 70,000 square feet of laboratory space across two North Carolina facilities, one in Henderson and one in Raleigh. The Henderson facility was expanded in 2020 in response to COVID-19, increasing the lab’s capacity from 50,000 COVID-19 tests per day to over 150,000 tests per day.

Since April 2020, MAKO Medical has processed more than 9 million COVID-19 tests utilizing RT-PCR technology and industry-leading testing assays, including the Applied Biosystems TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Assay. Currently, the MAKO team processes more than 30,000 COVID-19 samples per day from over 40 states.

MAKO’s team also provides turnkey K-12 COVID-19 testing in several states and has begun providing onsite workplace and large gathering COVID-19 testing with mobile units that can be dispatched to rapidly serve group needs. To learn more about workplace and large gathering COVID-19 testing visit www.return2office.com. To learn more about K-12 COVID-19 testing visit www.covidfreeschools.com.

Company Highlights:

  • For the past two years, Forbes Magazine has included MAKO Medical in its inaugural list of America’s Best Startup Employers. Only 500 companies nationwide earned the distinction.

  • August 2020, MAKO Medical announced the company scored 100% on CAP COVID Proficiency Testing, demonstrating MAKO’s commitment to quality lab results.

  • Committed to the U.S. Military—At MAKO’s founding, leaders carved out divisions of the company to hire U.S. military veterans. These teams are foundational to MAKO’s elite and high-touch client services model. In November 2021, MAKO held its second annual Veterans Day lunch to honor veterans, handing out more than 400 free meals to Vance County veterans and their family members.

  • May 2021, MAKO Medical was recognized by the Triangle Business Journal with a 2021 Life Sciences Award.

About MAKO Medical

Founded in 2014, MAKO Medical is a diagnostics partner for businesses, physicians, urgent care facilities, and hospitals around the United States. MAKO Medical has recruited chemists and scientists to provide industry-leading innovation. MAKO Medical Laboratories’ methods and assays are validated for reproducibility, precision, and accuracy. MAKO Medical invests heavily in state-of-the-art instrumentation and technology. To learn more, visit makomedical.com.

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CONTACT: Jamie Lovegrove NP Strategy 301-529-5085 jamie@npstrategy.com


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