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Lateral Flow Flu Test: A Potential Solution to Antibiotic Overuse

Swiss giant Roche claims that its latest innovation in the lucrative testing market is capable of distinguishing between Covid and flu, potentially preventing hospital admissions.

The lateral flow tests, which are undergoing trials in care homes in the Yorkshire and Humber region, use saliva samples and are designed to work similarly to COVID-19 kits. These tests, particularly beneficial for the elderly and people with underlying health conditions, can provide faster diagnosis and better treatment for flu, potentially preventing serious illnesses and reducing the use of antibiotics.

Roche Diagnostics UK and Ireland stated that faster diagnosis and treatment of flu is crucial for preventing serious illness, reducing antibiotic use and easing pressure on the NHS. In addition to distinguishing between flu and COVID-19, Roche’s new rapid antigen test also aims to help doctors rule out both viruses or treat patients quickly and effectively with antivirals if necessary.

Doctors sometimes use the PCR test to diagnose flu; however, the results can take up to 48 hours to come back from the lab, making it too late to administer antivirals. Roche plans to run its current pilot of the flu and COVID-19 dual test until March. Successful results from the trial may pave the way for a home test in the future.

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