As the pandemic continues to evolve, new tools are needed to fight it. The greatest needs revolve around the ability to screen asymptomatic individuals for COVID-19 and to simultaneously test for COVID-19, Influenza, and RSV.
Like diagnostic testing, screening for SARS-CoV-2 identifies infected individuals – however, screening tests are used when there is no reason to suspect infection. This includes screening of asymptomatic individuals without known exposure to the virus, but where there is a need to make decisions based on the results. Examples include screening in schools, places of business and high-risk environments, including aged care facilities, airports, and tradeshows.
According to experts, a highly sensitive RT-PCR test should be used for screening asymptomatic individuals without known exposure to SARS-CoV-2. This is critical to ensure the accuracy of testing as a 10-fold increase in LOD can increase false negative rate by 13%. Additionally, the ability to pool samples from asymptomatic individuals enables cost-effective testing. For accurate detection in pooled samples, a very sensitive RT-PCR assay is needed.
As SARS-CoV-2 disease restrictions are being lifted, other respiratory diseases which were depressed due to social distancing are expected to return. Laboratories that routinely test for COVID-19 have been advised to consider a multiplex assay that can simultaneously detect multiple respiratory disease-causing pathogens. PerkinElmer’s PKamp™ Respiratory SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR Panel enables detection and differentiation between SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, influenza B, and respiratory syncytial viruses using a single test, thereby helping labs manage potential surge in testing demand during the flu season.
1. Discuss the difference between diagnostic testing and screening.
2. Discuss the limit of detection important in screening.
3. Explain how can syndromic respiratory disease panels help in the coming months.