It’s not supposed to be flu and cold season yet, but doctors report that patients in record numbers are being diagnosed this summer with respiratory viruses normally seen in the fall and winter months. 

Since many of these viruses share a multitude of strikingly similar symptoms, a single PCR test that differentiates between three primary pathogens, influenza A and B, RSV, and COVID-19, is becoming increasingly popular with physicians and patients, according to leading national laboratory GENETWORx.

Moreover, as COVID-19 cases featuring the Delta variant continue to surge, follow up testing for this more contagious strain of the virus is also increasingly needed by government, organizations, and patient care facilities.

“Last year we didn’t really have a flu season because of mask mandates, but this year respiratory viruses started several months early in the summer when COVID cases dropped and people no longer wore masks,” says Sarah Jacobs-Helber, chief laboratory officer of GENETWORx. “In addition to our COVID-19 testing, right now we are seeing a large uptick in demand for our Combo test for influenza/RSV/COVID since it can detect these different respiratory viruses using only a single sample taken from the patient. People need to know right away if they have one of these three pathogens. This test has the potential to save lives now and throughout the winter season.”

Additionally, Jacobs-Helber explains that, with the surge in COVID cases in the U.S., many organizations and businesses require a separate follow up test that can distinguish the variants of the virus that are of concern to public health officials. She reports that GENETWORx is seeing increased ordering of the laboratory’s follow up PCR tests for the COVID-19 variants of concern including the Delta variant. This molecular test is performed at GENETWORx laboratory using the same patient sample which is reprocessed after a positive test result is received. Whereas most variant tests can take 7 days to process, the GENETWORx PCR variant test provides results in 24-48 hours.

“GENETWORx is seeing an increased demand for variant testing right now as well as for the combo influenza/RSV/COVID-19 test,” says Jacobs-Helber. “We are really focusing on what tests and technology patients and providers need as the pandemic continues to evolve. These new products will be vital to government, schools, businesses, colleges, assisted living facilities, and others as they strive to keep their workforce and student populations safe during the pandemic.”  

The GENETWORx Influenza/RSV/COVID Combo Test  has a 98% accuracy rate for influenza, 99% for COVID-19, and 96% for RSV. The test for influenza A/B, RSV, and COVID-19 utilizes a single mid-turbinate or nasopharyngeal swab sample which means less discomfort for patients when compared with collecting a separate sample from the patient for each test. The combo test takes significantly less time to deliver results to the physician and patients when compared with running several individual tests on multiple samples to detect the different pathogens.

Test results for the GENETWORx Combo test are available in 24-48 hours or less from receipt of sample or, for the variant test, 24-48 hours after a positive test result is received. GENETWORx also utilizes a results-reporting platform where patients or providers can easily access test results in an online portal, as well as via text or phone, or through the comprehensive COVID-19 software solution, the Aura app.  

Featured Image: GENETWORx provides a combination COVID/influenza/RSV test. Photo: GENETWORx