BURLINGTON – Life science giant LabCorp is rolling out a new test that the North Carolina-based conglomerate says will detect COVID-19 and influenza.
The combination test announced early Tuesday is intended to help people deal with the dual threat of the pandemic and the onset of the annual flu season.
“The U.S. is facing the most challenging health crisis in a century and is about to enter flu season, which has the potential to put additional strain on our healthcare system and cost lives,” said Dr. Brian Caveney, chief medical officer and president of LabCorp Diagnostics, in a statement.
“Individuals infected with COVID-19, influenza A / B, or RSV [respiratory syncytial virus], often experience similar symptoms of cough, fever, chest tightness, and body aches, providing a potential surge of patients seeking testing. Leveraging our scientific and technological expertise to simultaneously test for four major respiratory viruses, including COVID-19, will provide doctors a simple, efficient way to diagnose their patients.”
LabCorp has emerged as a leading developer and test provider for COVID-19.
The new test:
- Detects multiple types of infections
- Can help doctors diagnose patients
- Provide information to help doctors in making decisions about treatment options
“It saves on the supply chain. It’s easier for the patient to have just one swab in the front of their nose and for the doctor to get answers to all three or four viruses at once so they can make a good decision with their patient,” Caveney said.
LabCorp says patients can get access to the test through physicians and healthcare providers across the country.
Paul Neagle, vice president of operations at FastMed Urgent Care said, “In my opinion, if I were a patient and you told me you were going to do one swab instead of multiple swabs, I would be much happier with one swab.”
The company also is seeking approval from the Food and Drug Administration to offer the test as part of its recently launched at-home test collection kit known as Pixel.
As many as 56 million Americans were hit by the flu in late 2019-early 2020, LabCorp notes.
More than 6.3 million Americans have been hit by COVID-19, according to Johns Hopkins University, as of Tuesday morning.
With COVID-19 remaining a global threat, LabCorp notes that COVID-19 combined with the flu “could put an added strain on the healthcare system, as people experience similar symptoms – fever, cough, and aches, for example – with COVID-19 and respiratory viruses.”
And Labcorp is not alone. Vero Diagnostics in Apex announced they are launching a new COVID-19 saliva test this week using technology from California-based Fluidigm.
“The technolody itself will enable you to add additional markers, meaning that if you want to add things like rhinovirus, influenza A and influenza B, those can be added to the same test,” said Mark Lynch, of Fluidigm.