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New COVID-19 testing tool also checks for flu

Published: Sep. 16, 2021 at 9:24 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Is it coronavirus or the flu? SSM Health says it has the technology to differentiate the viruses, all with a single swab.

The Alinity M, located inside the microbiology lab at St. Mary’s Hospital in Madison, uses one sample to test for four viruses. The viruses are flu A, flu B, RSV (respiratory syncytial virus) and COVID-19.

“We typically have been testing for them years past,” Jeff Shadick, the hospital group’s regional vice president of laboratory services, said. “Unfortunately now, because of all of the reagent shortages, swab shortages... instead of having to run four individual tests, we’re able to actually do one test and preserve a lot of materials.”

Shadick said SSM Health is planning for a flu season, on top of fighting coronavirus. Without the Alinity M, he said test results would have been delayed “hours, if not days.”

He continued, “We’re looking forward to having this technology to help us process specimens and patients much more rapidly to allow them to get to the right level of care.”

NBC15 also reached out to other hospital systems in the area Thursday. A spokesperson from UnityPoint Health-Meriter responded Friday that the group also has the testing technology to check for both flu and coronavirus.

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