Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have created a new test that detects both the coronavirus and the flu, with accuracy comparable to gold-standard COVID tests.
The test looks for antigens (proteins on the surface of a virus molecule) that could be from either disease using a fluorescent probe.
Because COVID and flu have similar symptoms, a quick but precise test like this can easily rule out one infection while also arguably confirming the other, allowing patients to only have to go through one of the dreaded screenings.
In addition, confirmation that someone has flu combined with a negative Covid test will give public health officials trust that the person who is positive for flu does not need to be quarantined or contact traced in order to avoid an outbreak.
The cutting-edge technology used in this test could be applied in the future to test for multiple diseases at the same time.
One of the most challenging aspects of the pandemic has been determining how many people are infected with the coronavirus, which has proven difficult for researchers and medical professionals alike.
And, while tens of thousands of cars queued at drive-in testing sites across the United States during the fall and holiday surges of COVID-19, the prospect of a ‘brain scraper’ test for Covid is hardly appealing.
If somebody who tests negative for Covid wants to know if their symptoms are caused by the flu, they must repeat the test.
Flu nearly vanished this season due to the coronavirus pandemic, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
During the pandemic, increased hand-washing, masking, and people staying away from one another were likely responsible for a significant reduction in flu transmission.