While future epidemiological patterns of COVID-19 remain uncertain, we have enough experience with seasonal influenza to know when cases are expected to occur. Going into the second flu season during the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important for someone who is sick to be able to easily determine which virus they are infected with. Both COVID-19 and flu can cause mild to severe symptoms associated with upper respiratory infections, share similar modes of transmission, and can lead to hospitalization.
In a recent webinar, Dr. Anami Patel, chief science officer of Poplar Healthcare, shared his lab’s journey adopting multiplex technology to easily determine whether patients are infected with COVID-19 or flu with a single test. Poplar Healthcare is a centralized laboratory providing specialized services for clients including primary care physicians and private care practices across the USA. For years, Poplar Healthcare has provided comprehensive testing solutions, but the pandemic has spurred a new area of growth.
In 2020, Dr. Patel and his team began seeking solutions to offer COVID-19 testing. At first, Poplar Healthcare was able to rely on existing reagents and was granted FDA Emergency Authorization for their own COVID-19 assay. While this approval helped get testing options up and running, they soon needed to expand capacity and turned to Thermo Fisher Scientific’s TaqPath COVID-19 Combo Kit*.
Early in the pandemic, when a patient presented with symptoms, Poplar Healthcare would first test for COVID-19. If the patient’s result came back negative, a second test would be performed to determine if they had a strain of influenza. To prepare for the 2021-2022 flu season, Dr. Patel and his team turned their attention toward offering their clients a more efficient multiplex option to test for COVID-19, Influenza A, and Influenza B.
Dr. Patel and his team began examining multiplex systems that could provide high-volume testing capacity and use a minimal amount of reagents, while also providing accurate results. Supply shortages around the world had severely impacted testing capabilities, so Dr. Patel was keen on finding a solution that would preserve as many resources as possible.
Dr. Patel and his team evaluated three multiplex tests with positive and negative COVID-19, Flu A, and Flu B samples and found all were equally effective. They ultimately elected to adopt the TaqPath COVID-19 FluA, FluB Combo Kit* and, with renewed confidence in multiplex testing capabilities, are now able to provide their customers with state-of-the-art resources for this flu season.
Not only does multiplex testing streamline the lab’s workflow, it also accelerates patient diagnoses. As more viruses emerge across the globe, multiplex testing will remain an essential tool for labs and healthcare systems. Many infectious diseases present with similar symptoms, so having access to a comprehensive test that can detect and diagnose more than one infection is critical.
To learn more about Dr. Patel’s experience with multiplex testing for flu and COVID-19, watch the free webinar on-demand. In order to do so, register for the Labroots Clinical Diagnostic and Research meeting, and then find the presentation “Multiplex RT-PCR to Accurately Detect and Differentiate Respiratory Viruses Presenting Similar Clinical Symptoms” in the auditorium (co-presented by Lauren Miller of Thermo Fisher Scientific).
* For Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) only. For prescription use only. For in vitro diagnostic use.