Researchers at UC Santa Cruz have developed a new test that detects both the coronavirus and the flu, with accuracy comparable to gold-standard COVID tests.
The test employs a fluorescent probe to look for antigens – proteins found on the surface of virus molecules – that could be associated with either disease.
Because COVID and flu have common characteristics, a quick but accurate test like this can quickly rule out one infection while potentially confirming the other, allowing patients to only go through one of the dreaded screenings.
From a public health standpoint, confirmation that someone has flu combined with a negative Covid test will provide assurance that the person who is positive for flu does not need to be quarantined or traced in order to avoid an outbreak.
The cutting-edge technology used in this test could be adapted in the future to test for multiple diseases at the same time.
One of the most difficult 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 needs 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 keeping away from one another were likely responsible for a significant reduction in flu transmission.