Is it Kovid or Flu? New combo tests can find out.

“We’re preparing for another big jump in testing in the lab,” said Dr. Baird, whose team has run More than two million coronavirus trials Since the beginning of the epidemic. “Even if people are vaccinated, they will wonder, ‘Am I a case of success?'”

In addition to Cepheid, other companies have developed tests that look for influenza and coronaviruses at the same time, including Roche, which has received emergency use authorization for a test that uses coronaviruses, influenza, all at once. A and influenza seeks B.

In recent years various hospitals have also developed in-house versions of these combination tests, some of which seek more than a dozen different respiratory pathogens simultaneously using PCR technology. Those “multiplex” tests are particularly helpful in diagnosing diseases in people with a weakened immune system because they allow doctors to rapidly identify which pathogen a person is exposed to before it is too late to start the right treatment. Is making sick

A French company, BioMérieux, sells a PCR test that simultaneously monitors coronoviruses as well as 21 other viruses and bacteria. And Roche recently bought a company that sells a machine that can test more than 20 pathogens at once.

However, testing for many pathogens does not always lead to a simple treatment. Co-infection, in which a person is simultaneously infected with multiple viruses, is more common than doctors say, and sometimes multiplex tests can detect a viral infection, said Dr. Daniel Griffin, head of infectious diseases at Prohealth. , But may miss a bacterium. New York. A patient may carry the influenza virus, but may also test positive for a bacterium, such as Pneumococcus, for example.

“We initially thought that every time we identified a virus, we would be able to stop all antibiotics and treat the virus if effective antiviral therapy was available,” Dr. Griffin said. “We now know that we often need to continue antibiotics,” he explained, because sometimes multiplex tests are not sensitive enough to exclude a bacterial culprit.

Doctors and test developers are still grappling with how many pathogens there are to test patients in different settings. “Every company has a burning question about which panel is the best – is it one, two, four, 20?” Said Dr. Mark Miller, Chief Medical Officer of BioMérieux. For example, relatively young and healthy adults may require quad tests to know if they should start Tamiflu for influenza, but patients with underlying chronic diseases who are very ill may be tested for 22 different pathogens. There may be benefit from receiving so that doctors can make decisions. Do they need to be hospitalized.

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