Is it COVID-19 or the flu? Now you only have to take one test

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The FDA clears a new at-home test that detects both viruses

You’re running a fever, have a dry cough and you feel terrible. It could be the flu or it could be COVID-19.

Now you can find out by taking just one test. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has granted emergency use authorization (EUA) for an over-the-counter (OTC) test that can detect both. 

The Lucira COVID-19 & Flu Test is a single-use at-home test kit that provides results from self-collected nasal swab samples in roughly 30 minutes. 

“Today’s authorization of the first OTC test that can detect Influenza A and B, along with SARS-CoV-2, is a major milestone in bringing greater consumer access to diagnostic tests that can be performed entirely at home,” said Dr. Jeff Shuren, director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “We remain committed to working with test developers to support the shared goal of getting more accurate and reliable tests to Americans who need them.”

The FDA said the test should be used by people suffering with early signs and symptoms consistent with a respiratory tract infection. That can be a lot of things, but with the new test, both influenza and COVID-19 can be quickly ruled out.

The test can be purchased without a prescription and performed completely at home using nasal swab samples. It’s designed for adults as well as children, as long as an adult collects the sample.

COVID-19 is still around

COVID-19 has largely faded from the headlines but cases still occur in the U.S. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports more than 236,000 in the last reporting week. The CDC estimates there have been between 25 million to 49 million cases of flu from Oct.1, 2022, to February 18, 2023.

According to the FDA, the new test works by swirling the sample swab in a vial that is placed in the test unit. In 30 minutes or less, the test unit will display the results that show whether a person is positive or negative for each of the following: Influenza A, Influenza B and COVID-19. 

The FDA asks that people using the test report all results obtained to their healthcare provider for public health reporting and to receive appropriate medical care. 

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