Walgreens rolls out new COVID-19 data tracker to trace the spread of omicron, emerging variants

Nationally, more than 95% of all positive COVID-19 cases are presumed to be the omicron variant, according to data collected and tracked by Walgreens from positive tests at its 5,000 drug stores.

The company teamed up with Aegis Sciences to use the lab testing company's data to develop a new interactive tracking tool that uniquely identifies the spread of current and emerging variants in near real time. 

“Data regarding spread of variants is important to our understanding of viral transmission and, as new variants emerge, it will be critical to continue to track this information quickly to predict which communities are most at risk,” said Matthew Hardison, M.D., senior vice president of lab operations at Aegis Sciences, in a statement. “We are pleased to partner with Walgreens to provide testing, collaborate on data analysis and provide timely insights that can help health departments curtail the COVID-19 pandemic.”    

Data captured in the Walgreens COVID-19 Index can track the spread of the omicron variant within 24 to 48 hours, more quickly than other methods, according to the companies. In addition to a national view, data can be reviewed by state.

The Walgreens COVID-19 Index is generated through the combination of Walgreens nationally representative PCR testing services with the associated PCR and next-generation sequencing (NGS) laboratory test results generated by Aegis Sciences.

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While generated from a large, nationally representative data set, the data presented in the Walgreens COVID-19 Index is only reflective of real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT PCR) and NGS results from samples collected at specific Walgreens locations and tested by Aegis Sciences, the companies said.

“Through Walgreens partnership with Aegis Sciences, we have the ability to provide this interactive tracking tool and inform the development of strategies and resources to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19,” said Kevin Ban, M.D., chief medical officer for Walgreens, in a statement.

Based on data analyzed as of Jan. 17, the Walgreens COVID-19 Index indicates that the top states for COVID-19 positive rates are Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi, South Dakota, Nevada and Texas, which all have COVID-19 positivity rates over 45%. 

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Top states for confirmed delta case prevalence are Maine (46.2%), South Dakota (30%), Oklahoma (29.3%), New Mexico (27.3%) and Indiana (24.4%), the data indicate.

Individuals who are not vaccinated and those who have not received a second or third dose within the last five months accounted for the highest positivity rates, according to the data.

Data will be updated frequently and will provide a rolling snapshot of the previous seven days’ data based on analysis of positive tests at more than 5,000 Walgreens testing locations. 

According to Walgreens, all data presented in the COVID-19 Index are aggregated and de-identified to protect individuals’ privacy.