Why CDC urges labs to use COVID tests that can differentiate from flu

CDC urges labs to use COVID tests that can differentiate from flu

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) urged labs this week to stock clinics with kits that can test for both the coronavirus and the flu.

The CDC said Wednesday it will withdrawal its request for the “Emergency Use Authorization” of real-time diagnostic testing kits, which were used starting in February 2020 to detect signs of the coronavirus, by the end of this year (2021).

“CDC is providing this advance notice for clinical laboratories to have adequate time to select and implement one of the many FDA-authorized alternatives,” the agency said.

While cases of COVID-19 soared nationwide, hospitalizations and deaths caused by influenza dropped.

According to data released by the CDC earlier this month, influenza mortality rates were significantly lower throughout 2020 than previous years.

There were 646 deaths relating to the flu among adults reported in 2020, whereas in 2019 the CDC estimated that between 24,000 and 62,000 people died from influenza-related illnesses.

Why is the 2020-2021 flu season much lower?

In a normal year, between 20 million and 40 million Americans get sick with the flu. This means about one in ten people.

CDC usually tracks flu, which is the percentage of outpatient visits that are attributed to “influenza-like illness”, or ILI. The 2020-2021 flu season is shown, obviously much lower. In fact, at around 1.5%, the maximum ILI is only slightly greater than the typical level of summer flu.

Forbes reports: “The 2020-2021 flu season was not like the others for one very obvious reason — Covid-19. Since ILI is based on symptoms and not testing, it’s quite likely that there are some Covid-19 cases mixed in.”

Only a very small percentage of influenza illnesses result in death (in 2019-2020 it was about one in two thousand symptomatic illnesses).

The most striking pattern, of course, is the three waves of Covid-19 in 2020. More subtly is the virtual disappearance of influenza deaths in 2020 (the yellow regions along the bottom of the figure).

Now, The CDC urged laboratories to “save both time and resources” by introducing kits that can determine and distinguish a positive test for the coronavirus and flu.

“CDC encourages laboratories to consider adoption of a multiplexed method that can facilitate detection and differentiation of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses,” the agency said Wednesday.

Laboratories will have until the close of 2021 before the CDC officially withdrawals its Emergency Use Authorization of the Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel.

Comments from Fox News readers

Here are a number of comments on Fox News:

  • ManifoldWitnessCowboyUp: “It’s not clear. But it sounds like flu and /or coronavirus would cause a positive test result and the medical provider would call it all COVID? That’s what we suspected all along when the flu disappeared in the middle of flu season. The CDC stats even noted that their stats might not be accurate.”
  • OliverKron: “My God, it’s better late than never! All smart people wrote about the fact that tests define influenza as covid19 a year ago. I will reveal a secret for those who do not know the PCR test system is 50% false positive, how after that you can use such a system, it’s absurd.”
  • SHANE523: “Are they saying that past tests couldn’t differentiate between if someone had the flu or COVID? 610k deaths out of 34.4m known cases and a very high percentage of those were those with underlying conditions. Something doesn’t sound right.”
  • royerfelix: “I believe many deaths were chalked up to Covid, that were not Covid. There was a monetary incentive, and it was politically convenient for the election.”
  • PapaJoe092: “Does this mean we’ve been mislead on true numbers for the past 1 1/2 years? I’m personally not surprised, but it most certainly had an impact on millions of votes and how folks vote. Now it will get played yet again as long as possible to affect the upcoming midterms.”

(Source: Fox News and Forbes)

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