THE Commonwealth Healthcare Corp. wants to acquire equipment that can quickly identify Covid-19 variants in the CNMI, CHCC Chief Executive Officer Esther L. Muna said.

Quick identification of variants is crucial, especially given that Covid-19 therapeutics are proving to be ineffective against the Omicron variant of Covid-19, she added.

To combat Omicron, CHCC has ordered a supply of Sotrovimab, or Xevudy, a monoclonal antibody treatment that has been shown to be effective against the variant, she said.

As of Friday, the Omicron variant of Covid-19 had not been detected in the CNMI. For its, part, the Delta variant of Covid-19 had been identified and confirmed in the Commonwealth.

The CNMI has been sending Covid-19 specimens for variant identification to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention headquarters on the U.S. mainland.

But due to the high influx of cases nationwide, there has been a delay in receiving results of the variant testing.

“As we are seeing all across the U.S., [the Omicron variant is] likely going to be here. It’s just a matter of when. Right now, a lot of our specimens have come back as [the Delta variant],” Muna said.

The CNMI is again testing inbound travelers, including the fully vaccinated, for Covid-19 upon arrival, after a brief period of requiring testing on the fifth day after arrival.

Muna said they want to identify Covid-19 variants at the ports of entry, especially Omicron.

“We are looking for Omicron, and tests are being sent to the CDC for sequencing and to determine exactly what type of variant we have,” she added.

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