FDA approves single-swab test to detect COVID-19, 2 flu strains, another respiratory illness for emergency use

Friday, Abbott Laboratories announced a single-swab test it had developed to detect COVID-19, two influenza strains and another respiratory illness had received emergency use approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The Illinois-based company reported its Alinity m Resp-4-Plex test uses one nasal swab to test for COVID-19, flu A, flu B and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV). It utilizes Polymerase Chain Reaction technology, which is reportedly known for its high sensitivity in detecting infectious diseases.

In addition to addressing current COVID-19 pandemic testing needs, Abbott states this particular test could help in detecting flu A and B, which are known to cause seasonal flu epidemics annually in the United States, as well as RSV, which can be severe for both young infants and seniors.

Abbott stated the ability to conduct a single test rather than four separate tests will hopefully "decrease discomfort, lessen cost demands for doctors and lab workers, and eliminate unnecessary stress for everyone."

Additionally, Abbott reports the four viruses share common symptoms—such as a cough, fever and fatigue—thus making a single-swab test potentially more helpful in distinguishing what might be causing those symptoms.