Familiar Problems, New Solutions: Combination Tests Will Help Aid Clinicians During This COVID/Flu Season

As we near two years since the onset of COVID-19, a period where so many spent time isolated from one another, the past few months have seen children back in school, businesses reopening and people reconnecting. While these reconnections have brought joy into many people’s lives, it has also brought concern with each new sneeze or cough.

And rightly so. The seven-day average of reported COVID-19 infections has increased by 18%, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky said recently. This rise in cases and a 6% increase in the seven-day average of hospital admissions come just days after the Food and Drug Administration recommended booster shots for all adults 18 and older who received a COVID-19 vaccination.

“Heading into the winter months, when respiratory viruses are more likely to spread, and with plans for increased holiday season travel and gatherings, boosting people’s overall protection against COVID-19 disease and death was important to do now,” Walensky said.

While people will receive COVID-19 vaccinations and booster shots this winter, and not to mention flu shots as well, the possibility to be infected with either COVID-19 and the flu (or both) still exists.

The Current Landscape

Owing to COVID-19 infection control protocols, the 2020-2021 flu season found most people limiting exposure to other people, resulting in the lowest reported hospitalization rates on record for the flu. While this is by many measures a positive health metric, low rates of flu leave scientists with little data to guide them as they seek to identify and plan vaccines for impending flu variants.

Many medical experts believe that the U.S. will experience a more difficult flu season this year. State and local governments have relaxed restrictions because of the wide availability of COVID-19 vaccines, despite ongoing hesitancy. In fact, almost 60% of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated against COVID-19. Nowadays, there are fewer regulations and growing fatigue, with respect to mask wearing and social distancing. The U.S. has also opened its borders to many incoming air travelers, suggesting that the principal protections of the 2020-2021 flu season won’t be in effect this year. Prior to the pandemic, people who thought they could have a cold or the flu may not have felt driven to get tested to identify their illness. However, in anticipation of the COVID-19 and flu viruses co-circulating this season, people with symptoms should be tested for both. The possibility of an individual becoming co-infected with both COVID-19 and the flu simultaneously is also a threat, meaning a test which detects just the flu or COVID-19 to “rule out” the other infection is not the most effective in terms of time and resources spent.

In response, clinicians need reliable tools to confidently diagnose patients during this overlap, especially if their patients have yet to be vaccinated against COVID-19.  Rapid, point-of-care combination tests, like those run on the  BD Veritor ™ Plus System, are an efficient solution, as only one sample needs to be collected to run tests simultaneously for SARS-CoV-2, Influenza A and Influenza B.

Three-in-One Point of Care Testing

The BD Veritor ™ Plus System facilitates timely and efficient diagnosis and care, which can help prevent disease from spreading. And because the BD Veritor™ Plus System produces digital display results for all these critical viruses with just one sample and a single test, all within 15 minutes, it helps clinicians save time and resources. This is especially helpful in diagnosing patients with weak immune systems as it allows clinicians to swiftly discern what virus is making a person sick before it is too late to start beneficial treatment.

With some offices, entertainment venues and other public spaces now requiring health screenings for entry or after a return from quarantine, efficient tests like the BD Veritor ™ Plus System are of paramount importance. This winter, clinicians are likely to get an influx of patients wanting to know “Do I have COVID or the flu?” Having access to a combined test will be critical in successful patient care.

*Disclaimer: This product has not been FDA cleared or approved, but has been authorized by FDA under an EUA for use by authorized laboratories. This product has been authorized only for the detection of proteins from SARS-CoV-2, influenza A and influenza B, not for any other viruses or pathogens. The emergency use of this product is only authorized for the duration of the declaration that circumstances exist justifying the authorization of emergency use of in vitro diagnostics for detection and/or diagnosis of COVID-19 under Section 564(b)(1) of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act, 21 U.S.C. § 360bbb-3(b)(1), unless the declaration is terminated or authorization is revoked sooner.