SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has dominated news cycles for two years and counting, and rightly so. It has similarly conquered the priority list of healthcare providers, however, and that has had some unforeseen consequences. In particular, other respiratory infections have received reduced attention in the age of SARS-CoV-2, and that is a problem. Many of these conditions, including influenza and rhinoviruses, share symptoms with SARS-CoV-2, and some of them are responsible for past pandemics with exceptional human tolls. Losing sight of these conditions risks having one or more of them compound the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 crisis with a spike in infection numbers. It is critical that diagnostic labs and other front-facing parts of healthcare provision levy renewed attention on these conditions, and Dr. Ari Frankel, Chief Science Officer of Arkstone Medical Solutions, offers a sobering reminder of why.
The best known and likely most dangerous of the other infections that share symptoms with COVID-19 is influenza, colloquially “the flu.” Influenza has its own treatment regimen, which means that distinguishing it from SARS-CoV-2 infection with multiplex PCR panels and other emerging tools is a critical step toward aiming medications accurately and avoiding the creation of resistant viruses and bacteria. Influenza also mutates and recombines rapidly, creating new strains so frequently that flu vaccines must be continually revised and renewed. The worst influenza outbreak in the world was the 1918 flu that killed nearly 50 million people around the world and modern strains still have an annual death toll in the thousands, so the flu is no trifling matter even in a world still facing SARS-CoV-2.
In this webinar, Dr. Frankel goes over the biology, epidemiology, basic genetics, and treatment of influenza, and how critical it is that diagnostic laboratories take it seriously even if SARS-CoV-2 should remain a top priority. By using multiplex PCR panels that can distinguish between SARS-CoV-2, various influenza strains, and other respiratory viruses, diagnostic laboratories can help doctors use the right treatment for the right virus and, just as importantly, avoid using antibiotics, which are only effective against bacteria, against viruses at all. Dr. Frankel’s webinar is an important reminder that, no matter how much it might feel that way, the world did not stop spinning when SARS-CoV-2 turned it upside down, and staying ahead of new challenges means remaining vigilant against other viral threats.
Sign up to watch Dr. Frankel’s webinar here.