As flu season advances this fall in the United States, Sonic Healthcare USA has launched a multiplex RT-PCR assay that combines testing for SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) and Influenza A/B with a single specimen collection. This new offering complements our existing COVID-19 Testing Program that includes both RT-PCR (Molecular) and Antibody (Serology) testing.

Sonic Healthcare USA clinical laboratories and pathology practices are offering this new assay under the FDA Emergency Use Authorization (EUA). The assay uses highly sensitive high-throughput real-time RT-PCR technology for simultaneous detection and reporting of SARS-CoV-2 (the causative agent of COVID-19), influenza A, and/or influenza B in upper respiratory specimens. Nucleic acid from one or more of these organisms may be detectable in respiratory specimens during the acute (symptomatic) phase of a viral illness, and testing should be offered to individuals suspected of a respiratory viral infection consistent with COVID-19 by a healthcare provider.

The Johns Hopkins University of Medicine Coronavirus Resource Center reports more than 7 million COVID-19 cases in the United States since January 2020. According to the American Society for Microbiology, co-infection with multiple respiratory viruses is possible. More importantly, both COVID-19 and influenza are spread by virus-laden respiratory droplets; both infect lower and upper respiratory epithelium; and both cause fever, cough, anosmia, and other respiratory symptoms. The distinction between these viruses can be clinically significant as they do not share the same anti-viral therapy, vaccine availability, or public health implications.

“Our COVID-19 Medical and Scientific Advisory Taskforce continues to lead and advance our test development strategy to ensure we can support our local medical communities as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses through the upcoming flu season,” said Jerry Hussong, MD, MBA, the Chief Executive Officer of Sonic Healthcare USA. “It is critical that we offer these latest test advancements to provide clinicians with accurate insights and diagnostics as they manage through the risk of co-infections and other seasonal respiratory viruses while managing COVID-19,” added Dr. Hussong.