COVID test that can detect flu and another virus now offered without prescription

·2 min read
NIAID/National Institutes of Health via AP

A test that can detect and differentiate between COVID-19, the flu and another common respiratory virus is the first available without needing a prescription, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The FDA authorized the Labcorp Seasonal Respiratory Virus RT-PCR DTC Test for people to use at home on Monday, May 16, a news release said.

The tests are for those feeling sick with respiratory viral symptoms and can identify “influenza A and B, commonly known as the flu, respiratory syncytial virus, commonly known as RSV, along with SARS-CoV-2,” the FDA said.

“While the FDA has now authorized many COVID-19 tests without a prescription, this is the first test authorized for flu and RSV, along with COVID-19, where an individual can self-identify their need for a test, order it, collect their sample and send it to the lab for testing, without consulting a health care professional,” Dr. Jeff Shuren, the director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, said in a statement.

When it comes to COVID-19, the flu and RSV, each have some overlapping symptoms including cough, fever and runny nose, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Here’s how Labcorp’s test works.

Samples collected at home before lab analysis

Labcorp’s combination test was first launched in September 2020 ahead of its FDA authorization.

Now, the tests are available for ordering online and will be offered in stores, according to the agency. The FDA did not say how much they are expected to cost.

With Labcorp’s kits, people can collect a nasal swab sample at home before sending it to the company’s lab for analysis, the FDA said.

Teenagers ages 14 to 17 need to be supervised by an adult when collecting their sample, according to the news release. Those ages 2 to 13 need help from an adult when using the test.

“Results are delivered through an online portal, with follow-up from a health care provider for positive or invalid test results,” the FDA said.

The test’s authorization comes as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations are on the rise according to the CDC.

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