Combo tests could detect both COVID-19 and influenza when flu re-emerges

A Health Care Worker seals a coronavirus swab after testing at the Pro Health Urgent Care coronavirus testing site on April 30, 2020 in Wantagh, New York.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

Numerous companies have developed combination tests that simultaneously look for influenza and COVID-19, which could be especially useful as the flu potentially makes a return this fall, The New York Times reports.

A "quad test" that can detect COVID-19, two types of influenza, and the respiratory syncytial virus is now available "at thousands of hospitals and clinics around the country," one of a number of similar tests, the Times writes. Though the Times notes that the flu season was "nonexistent" last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Washington in Seattle's Dr. Geoffrey Baird said it could re-emerge in the fall, and combination tests would help determine whether a person has the flu or the coronavirus.

"We in the laboratory are preparing for another big boom in testing," Baird added.

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The Times also notes that the Sanford Health system, which includes over 40 South Dakota hospitals, plans to replace its antigen tests with "quad tests," with senior executive director of laboratories Rochelle Odenbrett telling the Times, "It's just amazing how the technology has evolved."

Oxiris Barbot, former New York City health commissioner, wrote in response to the Times' story about combo tests, "This stands to be a game changer for this coming fall's flu season." Read more at The New York Times.

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