A few days ago, I noted some ambiguous language in the CDC’s notice that the Emergency Use Authorization for the ChinCOVID PCR test was going to be withdrawn. It could be interpreted as meaning that the test was nonspecific for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza.
However, it could be something as simple as wanting to replace a one-condition test with a new two-condition test for either or ChinCOVID and flu. That turns out to be the case.
According to Kaiser Health the reason for the change in PCR testing to “differentiate” between ChinCOVID and influenza is not because the test went positive for either.
“The CDC is pulling their test ‘off the market’ as a gesture to encourage labs to use tests that include reagents (primers and probes) for both SARS-CoV-2 and Influenza so providers, labs, states, and CDC will have better data this fall and winter to estimate how much of clinical influenza-like illness is due to SARS-CoV-2 and how much is due to seasonal influenza,” Polage said in an email.
Basically, my first guess was correct. In the past flu season, so few flu tests were ordered that they really have no idea how many flu cases there were. Since symptoms overlap so much, it was more lucrative for hospitals to just call everything COVID-19, and get the CMS bonus. Nationally, flu testing was almost nonexistent. In a rare flash of competence, someone at the CDC decided to encourage combination tests so someone could still track next flu season.
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