As hospitals and surgeries brace for the impact of a ‘tripledemic’ of Covid, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), London Medical Laboratory has responded with a timely new test that rapidly detects which virus people are suffering from. This will help ease the pressure on the NHS as it prepares for one of its hardest Christmases.
A ’tripledemic’ winter is coming. The NHS is preparing for Covid, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases to peak at the height of the holiday season.
A new rapid PCR test has just been launched to detect if Covid, flu or RSV cause people’s symptoms. Swift diagnosis means individuals can quickly identify their condition and obtain appropriate treatment, while organisations can plan to avoid a Christmas staffing crisis.
The new test from London Medical Laboratory checks for all the viruses: Covid, RSV and influenza types A and B (the two most common types circulating in the UK). RSV is a virus that infects the upper and lower respiratory tract. Infants and young children risk developing a severe RSV infection resulting from hospitalisation.
The leading testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman, PhD, chief scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, says: ‘The expected ‘twindemic’ of Covid and flu has already been described by health professionals as a perfect storm. If that’s the case, the ‘tripledemic’ created by the addition of rapidly increasing RSV cases must be described as a tsunami set to lash UK health services.’
‘It is likely that the expected ‘tripledemic’ will stretch NHS England’s existing winter resilience plans significantly. Covid levels, though currently stable, remain high, and they are expected to rise again as friends and family get together in the run-up to Christmas.’
‘Flu cases are also expected to soar this winter, having been artificially kept down for two years by Covid lockdowns’.
‘RSV cases are already climbing. RSV is a leading cause of pneumonia in babies and the elderly, causing about 14,000 hospital admissions and 8,000 deaths in the UK in an average year. So it’s concerning that the latest RSV figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show 23.4% of children under five presenting with respiratory symptoms last week had the virus.’
‘The NHS will face this ‘tripledemic tsunami’ at its peak Christmas period. This is the worst possible time, as many surgeries and pharmacies will be working restricted seasonal hours. However, London Medical Laboratory’s new Covid, cold or flu A & B, 4-in-1 PCR test has arrived just in time.’
‘If someone has woken up feeling under the weather with a streaming nose, one quick swab will tell them if they have the flu, Covid or RSV. Anyone can order the test online and take it in their own home or visit one of over 85 selected pharmacies, drop-in clinics and health stores that offer these tests across London and nationwide.
‘For in-store tests, the results will be available, at the latest, the next day after delivery to our lab. For postal samples, people should get their results, via email, by the evening of the day our lab receives their samples.
‘Why is it vital to know which respiratory illness we may suffer? Infections with SARS-CoV-2, influenza A and B or RSV all have similar symptoms, but this test will allow people to confirm which infection they have so that they can take the appropriate action.’
‘Anyone testing positive for Covid should stay home and avoid contact with other people for five days.’
‘For flu or severe RSV symptoms, the Government’s guidance is to try to stay at home and work from home if you can. Avoid contact with other people until you no longer have a high temperature (if you had one) or until you no longer feel unwell.’
‘Remember, while the currently circulating strains of flu may produce only mild illness in one person, they may cause severe symptoms and even prove fatal to others. Similarly, while the RSV virus may only produce chesty cold symptoms in some people, it can severely affect elderly people and children.’
‘All of these viruses display very similar initial symptoms to the common cold, often caused by the less lethal rhinoviruses, but these symptoms may quickly escalate. For this reason alone, many people will want the peace of mind a test result can bring, ensuring they are not putting anyone in their family in danger this festive season.’
‘The revolutionary new Covid, cold or flu A & B, the 4-in-1 PCR test can be taken at one of over 85 selected pharmacies, drop-in clinics and health stores nationwide or, for convenience, at home through the post.’