Guidelines from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for clinical laboratories using tests other than PCRs that can simultaneously detect influenza and SARS-CoV-2 have again been misinterpreted online.
The alert, first released in July ( here ) also announced that, after Dec. 31, the CDC will withdraw its request for Emergency Use Authorization for its coronavirus test 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel, introduced in February 2020.
At the time, Reuters addressed posts that falsely claimed the reason behind this was that such diagnostic tests to confirm cases of COVID-19 in the United States were incapable of differentiating between SARS-CoV-2 and influenza ( here )
CDC spokeswoman Jasmine Reed told Reuters in July that the agency was “encouraging public health laboratories to adopt the CDC Influenza SARS-CoV-2 (Flu SC2) Multiplex Assay to enable continued surveillance for both influenza and SARS-CoV-2, which will save both time and resources.”
“The 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019 nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel met an important unmet need when it was developed and deployed and has not demonstrated any performance issues,” she said.
In a clarification statement here , the CDC said such tests were “specifically designed to only detect SARS-CoV-2 viral genetic material” and that “the presence of influenza viral genetic material within a specimen will not cause a false positive result”.
As previously explained by Reuters here , it is true that flu cases declined in the 2020-2021 season, but health experts say this is most likely due to COVID-19 protective measures, which also provide protection against influenza and other respiratory illnesses.
False. The CDC has advised for the use of tests that test for both the influenza and COVID-19 simultaneously to save time and resources. PCR tests are specifically designed to only detect SARS-CoV-2 viral genetic material, the CDC says.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
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