With the prevalence of COVID-19 still relatively high, with flu season upon us, and with symptoms of both infectious diseases being pretty much the same, how many of you have wondered when sick, Do I have COVID or the flu?  You could always test for COVID but never had the option to home test for the flu.  In addition, after exposure to COVID, do you still wonder whether a negative test is just because your viral load has not reached the level of sensitivity for detection in the test you’re using or are you sick with something else?

Well, now you can test for both COVID and the flu at the same time!  The FDA has issued an emergency use authorization (EUA) for the first over-the-counter (OTC) at-home test for both influenza and COVID!  Jeff Shuren, M.D., J.D., Director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health, stated today in announcing the EUA, “Today’s authorization of the first OTC test that can detect Influenza A and B, along with SARS-CoV-2, is a major milestone in bringing greater consumer access to diagnostic tests that can be performed entirely at home.”

The Lucira COVID-19 and Flu Home Test is a single-use test that can provide its results within thirty minutes and can take the worry out of these closely presenting illnesses – well, some of the worry.  But at least you’ll know which illness you’re dealing with.  While there is still a risk of a false negative, the FDA reports that the accuracy and reliability of the test are fairly high.

The Agency’s announcement (here) notes, “The collective impact of COVID-19, flu and RSV underscore the importance of diagnostic tests for respiratory viruses, and the FDA recognizes the benefits that home testing can provide.”  With the national health emergency for COVID scheduled to end on May 11th, let’s hope that the general public will continue to take precautions to further slow the spread of both diseases, and this test may help.

This somewhat reminds me of the old VHS-video rental days when Blockbuster introduced the catchphrase “be kind, rewind.”  In dealing with flu season and COVID’s continued prevalence, we might take a lesson from that and start our own catchphrase, such as “please test, for health’s best!”