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You’re not allowed to know if you have the delta variant

Is there a test of the COVID-19 variants? Yes. But can you know the results?

Health care worker Qing Chong prepares COVID-19 vaccines for a pop-up vaccination event at Reams in Magna on May 3, 2021.
Health care worker Qing Chong prepares COVID-19 vaccines for a pop-up vaccination event at Reams in Magna on Monday, May 3, 2021. The Salt Lake County Health Department is doing vaccination pop-up events with its mobile health center.
Annie Barker, Deseret News

You might want to know if you’ve been infected with a COVID-19 variant. But, legally speaking, you’re not allowed to know.

How do I know if I have the delta variant?

Business Insider reports that it’s not legal — yet — to know which COVID-19 variant infected you with the coronavirus.

The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Service — which oversees the U.S. labs — needs their genome-sequencing tests to be approved by the federal government before they can share results.

  • These tests often discover variants.

There is some demand from patients to see their results, especially if they’ve been infected by the highly-transmissible delta variant. However, there’s little motivation for the government to approve these tests, experts told Business Insider.

  • “I don’t think there’s a lot of motivation, quite honestly, to get that done,” Kelly Wroblewki, director of infectious diseases at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, told Business Insider.

Are there COVID-19 delta variant tests?

Since July, there has been some interest from people — fully vaccinated or unvaccinated — seeking out COVID-19 tests that could identify the delta variant.

But current COVID-19 tests can’t always detect the delta variant of the coronavirus, as I wrote for the Deseret News. In fact, the delta variant often “carries distinctive biological markers that some among the dozens of commercially available COVID tests from academic institutes and medical giants may not be able to sense,” according to Fortune.

  • The polymerase chain reaction testing platforms (PCR tests) can look at genetic variants to determine different strains. But those tests can take longer for results.
  • “Those faster diagnostics may be able to sense whether or not you’re generally infected with COVID, but not necessarily whether it’s the delta strain specifically that’s afflicting you,” according to Fortune.