WHY SHOULD LABS INCORPORATE A MULTIPLEX RESPIRATORY ASSAY INTO THEIR COVID-19 TESTING WORKFLOW?

Rise in Flu & RSV Infections

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention RSV National Trends Report shows that respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is already on the rise this season1. Additionally, health officials are warning that we could have a bad flu season this year2. This is leading to some health experts warning of a potential ‘twindemic’ or “multi-demic” of SARS-CoV-2, flu, and RSV this fall. Robert Redfield, the former CDC Director, warned that the simultaneous COVID-19 and seasonal influenza activity would place a large burden on our healthcare system which could result in an increased number of illnesses, hospitalizations, and deaths3.

CDC is Recommending Labs Adopt a Multiplexed Respiratory Panel

Additionally, the CDC announced that they are withdrawing the request to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) of their CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel which is used in many labs in the US. The CDC is encouraging labs to adopt a multiplexed respiratory panel4 as these assays can save both time and resources as we head into influenza season.

Co-infections Have Been Reported

People can be infected with more than one virus at any one time in a situation called a co-infection. Co-infection has been reported for SARS-CoV-2 and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), the flu, and other viruses and patients who experienced coinfection had a higher risk of poor health outcomes5. The identification of co-infections requires effective pathogen detection.

Saving Time & Resources

Multiplex assays test for more than one virus at a time. If seasonal influenza or RSV cases are high, using a multiplexed respiratory panel instead of separate tests for SARS-CoV-2, influenza, and RSV enable labs to save time and resources.

References:

  1. RSV National Trends (Sept 23, 2021)
  2. NBC News. Flu season is coming fast and could be miserable, studies warn (Sept 24, 2021)
  3. COVID-19 Response. Testimony: House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies. (Sept. 23, 2020)
  4. 07/21/2021: Lab Alert: Changes to CDC RT-PCR for SARS-CoV-2 Testing. (Sept. 23, 2021)
  5. COVID-19 and the Flu. (9/23/21)

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