The delta variant is responsible for more than 80% of the nation’s COVID-19 cases, says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It’s also two times as catchy as the original coronavirus.
The new guidelines come after the CDC revised its mask guidance, is now recommending that individuals — even if they’re vaccinated — wear a mask indoors in high transmission areas.
Transmissibility in an area is considered high when there are 100 or more new cases per 100,000 in the past seven days and 10% or higher positive nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs) in that period.
Here’s what we know about testing for the delta variant.
Is there a test for the delta variant?
No. There is not a specific test for the COVID-19 delta variant.
However, since the vast majority of COVID-19 cases in the U.S. are indeed the delta variant, it’s likely a positive test result indicates you could be infected with the delta variant, according to Human and Health Services of Texas.
Does a COVID-19 test detect the delta variant?
A viral test, either the nose or throat swab, can detect if you are positive for COVID-19. It’s not designed to tell you which variant you might be infected with, according to Human and Health Services of Texas.
How do you test for the delta variant?
To detect the delta variant, a specific type of COVID-19 test is required — genomic sequencing.
Genomic sequencing decodes the coronavirus’ complete set of genes and searches for new mutations. It also matches known variants.
Labs at some state and local health departments have access to genomic sequencing.
Due to the volume of COVID-19 cases, genomic sequencing isn’t performed on every test, according to Human and Health Services of Texas, but could be performed on some if a COVID-19 test comes back positive. It just depends on where you got the test.
Is there a rapid COVID-19 test for the delta variant?
No. Rapid COVID-19 tests only detect whether or not you are infected with COVID-19, not the specific strain or variant.