FDA Authorizes Three COVID-19 and Flu Combination Tests

COVID-19 and Flu Combination Tests

With just one swab or sample, combination flu and COVID-19 tests can be used to get answers to Americans faster.

These combination tests work by testing a single sample from a patient for multiple respiratory diseases, such as COVID-19 and the seasonal flu, which can show similar symptoms.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Qiagen, and BioFire Diagnostics have received Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authority for multiplex respiratory panels that include 20 total viral and bacterial pathogens known to cause serious respiratory disease.

This efficiency can go a long way to providing timely information for those sick with an unknown respiratory ailment.

Why combination testing is important

There are several important advantages to this combination testing.

Taking just one sample from a patient may help alleviate the need for multiple samplings, which means less discomfort for the patient with faster and more comprehensive results.

In addition, combination tests require fewer supplies, such as swabs and personal protective equipment, and reduce pressure on the supply chain for reagents.

The FDA hopes to authorize more combination tests as the fall flu season approaches.

In filing for the EUA, CDC presented data on the use of the test to analyze 115 samples, most of which were infected with either SARS-CoV-2, influenza A or influenza B. The test correctly identified all the samples, resulting in an overall percent agreement of 100%.

CDC’s original SARS-CoV-2 test also had a 100% agreement in the agency’s own evaluation.

With BioFire and Qiagen generating similar performance data on their tests, the U.S. could go into the flu season with three combination diagnostics. That arsenal may prove valuable in what some observers fear could be a perfect storm for the spread of multiple viruses in the country. 

Can the flu shot cause you to inadvertently test positive for COVID-19?

No, the CDC and FDA say that flu vaccines contain no type of coronavirus, like the one that causes COVID-19. 

The CDC notes that flu shots are made in two ways, which include using:

  1. flu viruses (not SARS-CoV) that have been “inactivated” or killed and aren’t infectious, or
  2. only one gene from a flu virus, as opposed to the full virus, to create an immune response without causing infection.

The CDC also said flu vaccines cannot cause flu illness. 

SARS-CoV-2, or COVID-19, is a coronavirus, not an influenza virus, which means getting a flu vaccine will not cause you to test positive for coronavirus.

Who should get the flu vaccine and when?

The CDC recommends that anyone 6 months and older get a yearly flu vaccine and recommends getting the flu vaccine as early as September and October.

Staying ahead of the virus and getting your flu shot as soon as possible will help reduce the potential strain on hospital resources if people are getting sick. However, if flu viruses are circulating, vaccination should continue, even in January or later.

Where can you get the flu shot?

There are a lot of options out there to get your flu shot, but if you are local to Lititz, Pennsylvania area, CNS can assist with your 2020-2021 flu shot.

We offer flu shots to individuals or companies with a large set of employees interested on obtaining the flu vaccine.

Occupational Medicine Services

Our Occupation Medicine Team is knowledgeable and focused on best-in-class customer service when it comes to treating workers and employers, creating long-term health and wellness.

The goal of our medical staff is to keep workers safe and healthy on the job, allowing you to continue the production that keeps your business running.

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