Walgreens launches tool to track COVID-19 cases as omicron surges

Omicron variant accounts for over 99% of new COVID-19 cases nationwide

Walgreens launched a tool to track the spread of coronavirus variants in real-time amid the recent surge in infections nationwide. 

The Walgreens COVID-19 Index, which uses testing data from Aegis Sciences Corporation, can track the spread of the omicron variant within 24 to 48 hours, the company announced Wednesday.   

The index offers a snapshot of data for the past seven days based on analysis of positive tests at thousands of Walgreens testing locations nationwide. The index will be continually updated, according to the retail pharmacy. 

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Walgreens says the data, which currently shows that "more than 95% of all positive cases are presumed to be the omicron variant" underlines the importance of vaccinations and testing. 

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The announcement comes just after the Biden administration launched a website for Americans to request free at-home COVID-19 tests to curb the spread of the highly contagious virus. 

An exterior view of a Walgreens store on January 06, 2022 in Mill Valley, California.  (Justin Sullivan/Getty Images / Getty Images)

The website, COVIDTests.gov, allows Americans to order four at-home tests per residential address. The offering of tests, which are delivered by the U.S. Postal Service, marks the latest step by President Biden to address criticism of low inventory and long lines for testing during the latest nationwide surge in cases driven by the omicron variant. 

The omicron variant now accounts for more than 99% of new COVID-19 casein the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

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Dr. Matthew Hardison, senior vice president of lab operations at Aegis Sciences Corporation, said that "data regarding spread of variants is important to our understanding of viral transmission and, as new variants emerge." 

Hardison added that "it will be critical to continue to track this information quickly to predict which communities are most at risk."  

The Associated Press contributed to this report.