Advanced technologies such as rapid antigen test kits and Polymerase chain reactions have aided a great deal in the detection of respiratory infections caused by viruses (1). During the coronavirus outbreak, the commonly used test was RT-PCR in which specimen was collected through the nasopharyngeal swab. In the meantime, the influenza season has coincided with the coronavirus pandemic after which many patients have been detected with influenza and coronavirus together.
Both coronavirus and influenza possess similar characteristics of transmission including transmission through airborne droplets and direct contact between humans (2,3). The clinical manifestation presented by both diseases is common including cough, fever, sore throat, rhinitis, dyspnea, headache, and myalgia. However, both diseases present different epidemiological manifestations. Herd immunity could result in no symptoms in influenza patients and if patients present symptoms, severity is mild to moderate in the majority of influenza patients. While on the other hand, the symptoms in coronavirus patients develop within five to seven days and infection can be severe (3–5).
The combined incidence of coronavirus and influenza has raised concerns in the healthcare community. To combat the combined incidence, a single test for detecting both A and B influenza viruses and coronavirus can provide ease of administration. The management of coronavirus and flu can be made possible with accurate and fast test results that can aid in the elimination of patient anxiety arising from the long wait for test results.
WHAT IS A COMBO CORONA AND INFLUENZA A & B RAPID ANTIGEN TEST?
A combination rapid antigen test helps in identification for the presence of influenza A or B virus or coronavirus in a single test. This combination of rapid tests delivers results in less than thirty minutes helping the healthcare professional to make informed decisions on patient and pandemic management (6).
HOW DOES A COMBO RAPID ANTIGEN TEST PERFORM?
The combination rapid antigen test is a point-of-care test in which the sample is collected with the help of a nasopharyngeal swab. Only a few steps are involved in performing this test. A sterilized swab is inserted into the nose, rotated a few times and after a few seconds, it is removed from the nose. The swab is mixed with the extraction buffer. The extraction buffer mixed with sample travel through the test device to produce a result (7).
HOW DOES A COMBO RAPID ANTIGEN TEST WORK?
When the swab is mixed with extraction buffer, the extraction of antigen takes place from the disrupted particles of the virus and the solution travels through the membrane on the device. Detector antibodies are present on the device conjugated with gold dye and immobilized capture antibodies are also present on the device membrane. A reaction takes place between anti-influenza antibody or anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody present on the device in conjugation with gold dye particles. The reaction results in the formation of an antigen-antibody complex that travels further through the device and binds with the immobilized capture antibody present in the form of lines on the device. In the case of a positive test, a colored line appears on the device (7).
BENEFITS OF A COMBINATION RAPID ANTIGEN TEST
- One test for three viruses eliminates unnecessary testing
This combination test provides the opportunity to minimize the number of swabs utilized during healthcare visits because of its ability to conduct three tests with the help of only one swab. This test also eliminates the need to conduct three different tests separately (8).
The use of a single swab does not only lessen the financial demands for healthcare workers but also reduces the health cost for patients who otherwise would have to opt for three different tests for individual identification of coronavirus, influenza A and influenza B virus. Simultaneously, the single swab also reduces the cost of logistics and lessens the cost burden on the overall healthcare system.
- Ease for the patient
This combination test decreases the discomfort of patients associated with multiple visits to get tested again and again for different viruses. Patients can get tested for three viruses at a single point of care at one time reducing stress for both patients and healthcare workers.
- Successful management of influenza and coronavirus without any delay
The coronavirus pandemic and influenza wave can stem with the help of a quick diagnosis because, with the help of a combination rapid antigen test, patients infected with influenza or coronavirus can be isolated quickly, thereby inhibiting the spread of the virus. The benefits of quick diagnosis from a combination rapid antigen test are not only for the patients but for the whole community as well. The best time to administer antiviral medications for influenza is shortly after the onset of symptoms that is within forty-eight hours. With rapid tests, successful treatment is possible along with the prevention of severe illness. This not only results in improved patient health but also reduces healthcare costs.
- Rapid results
The rapid antigen test does not depend on laboratory equipment and generates results within minutes assisting with a rapid assessment of risk and also reducing the time of exposure of a positive patient who is active in society. Moreover, the test does not require specially trained individuals to perform.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Waking up with a runny nose might not be a problem in old times but the current coronavirus pandemic has changed it all. The colder months bring with it the spread of the influenza virus. Since both the viruses present with more or less similar symptoms, it can become problematic to differentiate between the two but thanks to the combination rapid antigen test for influenza A and B virus and coronavirus, a person can get tested for three viruses with a single swab test. A combination rapid antigen test offers patients a cost-efficient option to get tested by decreasing their discomfort of getting tested multiple times to detect different viruses. Not only this, but the combination rapid antigen test also provides healthcare professional with an opportunity to make informed decisions to better manage the treatment of patients due to quick results delivered by the combination rapid antigen test for coronavirus and influenza A and B viruses.
- Mahony JB, Petrich A, Smieja M. Molecular diagnosis of respiratory virus infections. Crit Rev Clin Lab Sci. 2011 Dec;48(5–6):217–49.
- Chen N, Zhou M, Dong X, Qu J, Gong F, Han Y, et al. Epidemiological and clinical characteristics of 99 cases of 2019 novel coronavirus pneumonia in Wuhan, China: a descriptive study. Lancet Lond Engl. 2020 Feb 15;395(10223):507–13.
- Zhang N, Wang L, Deng X, Liang R, Su M, He C, et al. Recent advances in the detection of respiratory virus infection in humans. J Med Virol. 2020 Apr;92(4):408–17.
- Jiang C, Yao X, Zhao Y, Wu J, Huang P, Pan C, et al. Comparative review of respiratory diseases caused by coronaviruses and influenza A viruses during epidemic season. Microbes Infect. 2020 Jul 1;22(6):236–44.
- Konala VM, Adapa S, Gayam V, Naramala S, Daggubati SR, Kammari CB, et al. Co-infection with Influenza A and COVID-19. Eur J Case Rep Intern Med. 2020;7(5):001656.
- Roche to launch SARS-CoV-2 & Flu A/B Rapid Antigen Test in countries accepting the CE Mark to enable rapid differentiation of viral respiratory infections [Internet]. [cited 2022 Feb 1]. Available from: https://www.roche.com/media/releases/med-cor-2021-12-06.htm
- STATUSTM COVID-19/Flu A&B Rapid Antigen Test [Internet]. Aurora Biomed. [cited 2022 Feb 1]. Available from: https://www.aurorabiomed.com/product/status-covid-19-flu-ab-rapid-antigen-test/
- Four Viruses, One Swab, One Report [Internet]. Abbott. [cited 2022 Feb 1]. Available from: https://www.abbott.com/corpnewsroom/diagnostics-testing/four-viruses-one-swab-one-report.html