what is it, price, where, at the pharmacy?

Antigenic tests now make it possible to detect Covid-19 and influenza at the same time to facilitate diagnosis and improve care. What are these so-called “multiplex” tests? Are they effective? What prices?

Combined so-called “multiplex” antigen tests now make it possible to detect Covid-19 and influenza at the same time to facilitate diagnosis and improve management. “The clinical signs of winter respiratory infections, especially influenza, and those of Covid-19 are similar; no symptoms are specific. It is therefore difficult to make a differential diagnosis of influenza/Covid-19 during the co-circulation period. of these viruses without performing virological diagnostic tests“ recalled the High Authority for Health (HAS) in 2020. The combined flu/Covid test is “one real progress, this allows for prescribe less antibiotics and justify it to the patient. It is a excellent therapeutic educational tooldefended Jean-Paul Hamon, the honorary president of the Federation of Doctors of France, in the Journal Du Dimanche on 1 January 2023. The Union of Community Pharmacists’ Unions (USPO) also asks this. “insisting” at HAS, that it positions itself on the execution and management of combined influenza/Covid/RSV tests (bronchiolitis) to respond to the emergency of the triple epidemic. We take stock of the multiplex test.

What is the Covid and flu test?

To diagnose influenza or Covid, we can do unit PCR tests directed against each of the different viruses. Currently, several types of tests diagnose Covid-19 by testing for RNA on nasopharyngeal, saliva or oropharyngeal swabs or by testing for SARS-CoV-2 antigen (antigen test) on nasopharyngeal swabs. Diagnosis of influenza is most often clinical. that influenza virus antigen test (influenza virus type A and B) is already used in everyday life and is covered by health insurance.”but it is sensitivity is low in adults, can be at less than 60% between 70 and 90% in children” specifies HAS. It is now possible to perform an antigen test to detect Covid-19 and influenza in the same sample (same nasal swab), then analyzed with the PCR technique. The so-called multiplex combination test detects influenza A antigen (including the H1N1 subtype), influenza B and/or Sars-Cov-2. In contrast to unit testing, the multiplex test makes it possible to detect more pathogens measures from the same sample. In 15-30 minutes, the patient gets the result. Different types of samples can be used to perform these tests, the most common is nasopharyngeal inoculation.

For whom ?

To date, HAS recommends the use of multiplex tests”in hospitalized adults or arrive at the emergency roomresidents of nursing homes and young children. In other people, the identification of the virus of winter virus has no consequences for the management, which is based on treating the symptoms and monitoring the development of the disease, the use of these tests is useless. . Only a SARS-CoV-2 detection test is then indicated“. The doctors are waiting for the green light from the Ministry of Health to generalize them.

This is not a take-home self-test.

Where can you buy the Covid and flu test?

The Multiplex Covid and Influenza test is available over the counter in some pharmacies, not all offer it. This is a rapid screening test to be performed by a healthcare professional (pharmacist or doctor). This is not a take-home self-test.

Can we do a Covid and flu test at a pharmacy?

Yes, these are the combined flu and covid tests obtained from pharmacies that offer it (not all do) with or without a prescription. The result is given after a maximum of 30 minutes. They can also be performed directly by the doctor during the consultation.

Which laboratories market the Covid and flu test?

Several laboratories market multiplex tests: Biron, AAZ, Toda Pharma, Roche etc”The sample is the same, it is nasal mucus, we will recover and that we will not only migrate on a strip that will detect Covid antigens, but also influenza antigens” Fabien Larue, director of the AAZ laboratory, told Franceinfo on January 2.

The test does not make it possible to know whether the patient pollutes.

How reliable is the Covid and flu test?

According to the French laboratory Toda Pharma presents their multiplex test an accuracy rate of 98.9% for Covid-19, 99.9% for influenza A and 99% for influenza B.The multiplex test is a qualitative testing, not to make it possible to determine in which phase of the infection the patient is, nor to decide whether the patient contaminates. However, it allows it detect the presence of pathogens even with a low viral load as is the case at the beginning or end of an infection, but also the pathogens of an asymptomatic infection” specifies HAS. “The main advantage of multiplex testing is that could search for several infectious agents at the same time with a single sample. One of the disadvantages could be interpretation of positive results for multiple pathogens, especially among immunocompromised patients who have prolonged viral shedding that would not be detectable by viral culture, as well in children, as respiratory viruses often appear asymptomatic“shadows authority.

Interpretation of the results of a Covid and influenza multiplex test © Roche Laboratory

Do I need a prescription for the Covid and flu test?

“Combined flu/Covid tests are possible at pharmacies that offer them with or without a prescription says Laura Fonteneau, pharmacist.

How much does the Covid and flu test cost?

The price of the Covid and flu test depends on the pharmacies. “Since influenza screening tests are not reimbursed, combination tests may have varying purchase prices by pharmacists according to brands, terms of purchase, etc. and therefore variable prices for patients” emphasizes Laura Fonteneau. Some tests are sold around 5 euros.

Is the Covid and flu test reimbursed?

“Again, it all depends on the pharmacies, there are no fixed rules“says Laura Fonteaneau. Influenza screening tests are non-refundable.”In certain situations, covid tests are reimbursed if the pharmacist performs a combined flu/Covid test, it can be covered, but only on the basis of reimbursement of the Covid test“supports the pharmacist.”According to the pharmacies that offer them (free price), some will not charge the patient anything extra if the pharmacist finds it economical or if the combined test is too expensive for the pharmacy to purchase, there may be an additional fee for the patientadds Laura Fonteneau.
Thanks to Laura Fonteneau, Pharmacist.

Source: Distinguishing influenza from COVID-19: in which situations and with which tests? HAS, 21 October 2020

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