For the past three years, SARS-CoV-2 has been the virus of greatest concern, resulting in more than 600 million confirmed infections worldwide . Still, as mitigation measures relax, and life returns to normal, other viral outbreaks are emerging. Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases are surging and overwhelming hospitals, while the flu season is off to an early start. There are even concerns about a potential “tripledemic” this winter if a new, highly transmissive SARS-CoV-2 variant emerges in tandem with the flu and RSV’s surge . As these viruses spread and more people become sick, it seems apparent that robust detection methods are still needed.
Since the early days of the pandemic, molecular testing using real-time PCR has been considered the “gold-standard” for COVID-19 testing due to its accuracy and reliability . During a recent Labroots webinar, Celeste Stone, Senior Manager of Business Development, and Jorge Fonseca, Director of Product Management, both of Thermo Fisher Scientific, reviewed the benefits of molecular testing, including Thermo Fisher’s PCR solutions, and the need to expand infectious disease research and testing.
A trusted partner for global COVID-19 detection
As part of the presentation, the speakers provided an overview of how Thermo Fisher supported testing at the height of the pandemic through the rapid development of one of the first COVID-19 tests. “Many of you have come to trust and rely on us due to our intense commitment during the pandemic to create a test that was robust not only in performance but also in supply,” Stone said. More than 700 million SARS-CoV-2 tests have been performed to date using Thermo Fisher’s technology.
Traditional infectious disease detection methods like cultures or microscopy can be inaccurate or inconclusive, inflexible or irrelevant, missing key pathogens, or too slow to deliver results. PCR testing fills these gaps, offering a rapid, low-cost, and highly sensitive molecular testing solution. According to Fonseca, the reproducibility and robustness of real-time PCR are also key differentiating qualities.
What’s next for testing beyond SARS-CoV-2
Going forward, laboratories can take advantage of the PCR capacity they built up during the pandemic by expanding their testing strategy and exploring a broader research menu, including capabilities in infectious diseases, inherited diseases, and oncology.
Expanding test menus is important as a multitude of other circulating infectious diseases continue to have an immense impact globally. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), infectious diseases account for 7.2 million physician office visits and 3.4 million emergency department visits per year in the United States . And the burden of infectious disease is costly, making up approximately 15% of all health care expenditures annually . “There is a clear need for fast, low-cost detection solutions to improve care and reduce healthcare expenditures,” said Stone.
Respiratory tract infections are the leading cause of disease burden worldwide according to the World Health Organization (WHO), but urinary tract infections (UTIs) and gastrointestinal infections are also among the most common infections. UTIs are particularly threatened by the growth of antimicrobial resistance (AMR), making early detection even more crucial. Vaginal and sexually transmitted infections are also prevalent globally and early, accurate pathogen detection using PCR may help curb their spread.
To learn how your infectious disease testing research lab can utilize Thermo Fisher’s molecular testing research solutions to detect a range of pathogens, watch the free webinar on-demand.
For information on Thermo Fisher’s infectious disease testing solutions, please click here.