Hungarian virus diagnostics firm Neumann Labs is offering a combined PCR (polymerase chain reaction) test that can simultaneously detect COVID-19 and common flu infections, conservative daily Magyar Hírlap reports.
“Although, to date, the complications of coronavirus infection can be much more severe than those of influenza, the symptoms of the two diseases are very similar,” Neumann Labs CEO Miklós Nyíri told Magyar Hírlap in an interview.
He pointed out that based on external signs, in many cases, even experienced professionals cannot decide which disease they are facing, and this can even have fatal consequences.
“It is enough to think that a person diagnosed with Covid, but actually having the flu, is taken to the wrong place in the hospital or vice versa,” Nyíri said, adding that the Hungarian company with more than 20 years of virus diagnostic experience is the first in the world to be able to produce a complex PCR test.
“We’ve got a device that can detect both pathogens with a single test,” Nyíri said.
Coronavirus PCR tests, which can confirm both influenza A and B types, will be available from today and can be used with high accuracy even by self-sampling. Nyíri said that while they are the first to come up with this test, it is only a matter of time before others appear on the world market with similar products.
“The coronavirus epidemic is also on the rise in Hungary, and unfortunately we can expect a lot of new patients in the coming weeks,” Nyíri said. “The latter trend is supported by company data. The laboratory, constantly increasing its capacity, has performed more than 50,000 PCR tests with the help of five robots since the summer. As we have learned, in recent weeks, more than one-fifth of the studies have been positive.”
It is important to note that the seasonal flu pandemic in Hungary is most prevalent in the winter, but it can appear sporadically in the autumn. The infection rate is high, reaching as much as 20 percent of the population. It is responsible for the deaths of 600,000 to 700,000 people worldwide each year, of which approximately ten percent fall in the European region.
According to Nyíri, those who are or will be in the greatest danger are those who catch the coronavirus and the flu at the same time, because in this case the probability of death doubles, he said. He added that they perform an average of 3,000 tests a day, and the combined PCR test is sold at the previous price, with no extra charge for the flu virus test.
Title image: PCR test (illustration).