RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) — As COVID-19 continues its grip on North Carolina, there are growing concerns heading into the flu season. However, a new test could make treating both viruses easier.
This week MAKO Medical announced the development of a new test for COVID-19, influenza A and influenza B in a single nasal swab sample.
“It’s the same exact process that people are currently going through with COVID-19. However, you get more value and you can find out if you have COVID or flu,” said Josh Arant, COO, MAKO Medical.
Arant says the three-in-one test is important because while COVID19 and flu symptoms are similar, treatment for each is different.
“It’s very difficult to understand do I have flu or do I have COVID? You have Tamiflu for the flu, and we can quarantine for COVID. Understanding what you actually have is important,” said Arant.
So far more than 270,000 North Carolinians have tested positive for COVID19, according to state health data.
With flu season approaching Dr. Abhi Mehrotra worries about the burden battling both viruses could put on hospitals.
Mehrotra serves as the Vice-Chair of the UNC Department of Emergency Medicine and oversees the UNC Health system’s emergency department group.
“It’s even more important this year that you get your flu shot because having a coexisting disease with COVID-19 and flu would be terrible,” said Mehrotra.
According to state health data from Oct. 18 – 24, 442 specimens were sent to the state lab to be tested for the flu. None came back positive for the virus.
Mehrotra says hand washing, wearing a mask, and social distancing are some of the best ways to stay healthy.
“Hopefully the precautions you’re taking from a COVID perspective will also help prevent flu infection,” he said.
Arant says the three-in-one test is currently only offered through medical providers but hopes to offer it at drive-thrus in the future.
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