The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends influenza testing for all patients with a suspected diagnosis entering a hospital. Clinical influenza diagnoses do not require a flu test, but influenza tests can assist with clinical decisions related to infection prevention and control, antiviral treatment and diagnostic testing. Clinicians should consider factors such as cost, speed and accuracy when choosing an influenza testing method for their practices.
What Factors Contribute to the Best Flu Test?
What constitutes the “best” flu test for your practice will depend on your priorities. The sensitivity of frequently used Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-approved diagnostic tests range from approximately 80-95%, but costs or testing time tend to rise with those rates. To account for these factors, we will categorize the best tests by the cheapest, fastest and most accurate.
Cheapest Flu Tests
Rapid influenza diagnostic tests (RIDTs) have one of the lowest costs among FDA-approved influenza tests on the market. According to Nature, RIDTs cost around $15 per test — compared to rapid molecular tests, they tend to have higher false negative rates, too.
Fastest Flu Tests
Clinical guidelines from the Infectious Diseases Society of America (IDSA) state that the time to results for influenza testing ranges from 15 minutes to 10 days, depending on the method used. Two influenza testing methods provide results in less than an hour:
RIDT: RIDTs offer results within 15 to 30 minutes, making them faster than most FDA-approved flu tests. With an analyzer reader device, these tests can reach a sensitivity of 80% or higher while delivering rapid results. Due to their lower sensitivity rates than other methods, the CDC recommends confirming RIDT results with a molecular assay.
Rapid molecular assay: Rapid molecular assay tests detect influenza with high specificity at a sensitivity between 90-95%. In exchange for their high speed and accuracy, practices must pay more than RIDTs per rapid molecular assay test and invest in a testing platform. Compared to an RIDT’s average cost of $15, a molecular assay test can cost up to $45.
Most Accurate Flu Tests
Culture and molecular assay testing offer the highest sensitivity and accuracy rates out of common influenza tests. Compared to RIDTs, they have a slower time to results or higher costs. These testing methods include:
Rapid molecular assay: Compared to RIDTs, rapid molecular assays have higher sensitivity and a lower false negative rate. A 2017 meta-analysis found that in people with influenza, RIDTs had a false negative rate of 45%, while molecular assays had a rate of just 8%. The 90-95% sensitivity rate enables it to detect influenza at lower viral loads than RIDTs. However, this high level of sensitivity can lead to a higher contamination risk than RIDTs.
Standard and multiplex molecular assays: The IDSA recommends using standard and multiplex molecular assays in hospitalized patients over RIDTs because of their high accuracy rate. When a rapid molecular assay test isn’t available, these tests can confirm negative RIDT results and provide results within one to eight hours.
Rapid cell or viral culture: The CDC and IDSA recommend rapid cell and viral culture tests for antigenic and genetic characterization instead of diagnosis because they can take up to 10 days to deliver results. When necessary, they can also confirm a negative result from an RIDT or immunofluorescence assay.
Purchase Your 2020 Flu Tests From Mercedes Scientific
As COVID-19 makes its way across the country, business leaders and individuals are implementing ways to reduce the spread of the illness. While many people are doing their best to wash their hands frequently and limit their contact with others, some are also turning to alcohol-based sanitizers thanks to their convenience and ease-of-use.
Although COVID-19 is still a new virus and we have much to learn about it, we do know how alcohol affects the coronavirus. Alcohol-based sanitizers can be highly effective virus and bacteria killers, which is why the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends using them in the absence of regular water and soap.
What Effect Does Alcohol Have on the Coronavirus?
In some ways, the coronavirus is similar to many other types of diseases. By touching a surface that has the virus on it and then touching your face, you put yourself at a higher risk for contracting the virus. Alcohol kills coronavirus microbes on the skin, which reduces your chances of getting sick.
While every hand sanitizer is different, many alcohol-based sanitizers are effective virus-killers. Alcohol-based sprays and wipes can also be used to disinfect other surfaces, including some electronics. If you rub on alcohol gel or spray and let it dry, this will likely destroy the virus and lower the risk to you and others. It’s important to rub the sanitizer in for at least 30 seconds and let it dry completely before touching anything else. Wiping the formula off before it dries could reduce its effects.
What Do We Know About the Coronavirus and Alcohol?
We currently know that alcohol kills the coronavirus if it’s used in the right formula. For example, one study verified the effectiveness of two sanitizers recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO). One of these formulas contains 80% alcohol, 1.45% glycerol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide, while the other contains 75% isopropyl alcohol, 1.45% glycerol and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide.
The most reliable formulas are those that contain at least 60% alcohol. This is, in most cases, the minimum percentage of alcohol required to kill the virus. The lower the percentage, the less effective the disinfectant properties become.
The CDC reports that the ideal alcohol content level is between 60 and 95%. This is the range where alcohol is most useful for killing germs, rather than reducing the microbes or evaporating before it can remove them. Using a gel or liquid that takes about 30 seconds to dry is the best way to kill COVID-19 molecules that may be on your skin or surfaces.
Alcohol’s effect on the coronavirus helps prevent people from transmitting the disease to themselves or others. Having a quick way to reduce the spread of germs as needed can benefit laboratories and healthcare facilities where workers touch surfaces, equipment or patients every day.
If you’re looking for more information about the effects of alcohol on COVID-19, you can view the information currently available from the CDC. At Mercedes Scientific, we offer a variety of alcohol-based sanitizers and cleaning products, so contact Mercedes Scientific for better safety solutions.
Following the March 2020 breakout of COVID-19 in the U.S., hand sanitizer shelves around the country sat empty for weeks. To protect themselves and others from the spread of the coronavirus, people have been doing their best to keep sanitizer handy.
While sanitizer can be a useful substitute for hand washing when soap and water are unavailable, it’s important to make sure that you’re using the right products — especially if you work in a lab or around other people. Some types of sanitizer offer more protection than others. As a result, you need to know which hand sanitizer products work best against the virus before you buy them.
Do All Hand Sanitizers Work Against COVID-19?
The COVID-19 crisis has brought more attention to the importance of hand cleanliness at work. If you have been paying attention to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines released over the last several months, you may already know that most experts consider washing your hands with soap and water for 20 seconds to be the most effective germ killer. In the absence of regular soap and water, some hand sanitizers can offer adequate protection against viruses and bacteria.
That said, all hand sanitizers are not created equal. Some sanitizers offer higher and lower concentrations of alcohol than others, which can have a major impact on the effectiveness of the product. Over the last few months, FDA has even labeled several types of sanitizer unsafe due to the presence of methanol and 1-propanol, which are toxic for humans.
The best hand sanitizers for COVID-19 are those that contain at least 60% alcohol. Alcohol-based sanitizers are recommended by the CDC for the best protection against the spread of COVID-19. Other acceptable products may also contain ingredients such as isopropyl alcohol and benzalkonium chloride, both of which are common in disinfectant products.
Top Hand Sanitizers for the Coronavirus
By knowing which hand sanitizers are most effective, you can search for the correct products and better protect yourself from the coronavirus. Some effective brands of COVID-19 hand sanitizer include:
Purell: As one of the most popular brands on the market, this GOJO Industries hand sanitizer is known for its effectiveness in killing viruses and bacteria. It’s also a common choice for hospitals and doctor’s offices because of its consistent quality. It also exceeds CDC recommendations for alcohol content, containing 70% ethyl alcohol.
Germ-X: Germ-X is another popular sanitizer brand that can help keep people’s hands germ-free. Also manufactured with 70% alcohol content, the Advanced Germ-X formula is ideal for homes, cars and healthcare settings.
Shield: Shield hand sanitizer gel contains 70% ethyl alcohol and it’s designed to kill some of the most stubborn illness-causing germs. In addition to offering protection against COVID-19, Shield is an aloe-based, soothing product that helps prevent excessive dryness. If you’re looking for a product that will maintain the necessary moisture in your hands, Shield may be a reliable option.
Bluegrass Distillers: Bluegrass Distillers liquid hand sanitizer is a germ-killing, FDA-compliant solution. Thanks to its 80% alcohol content, this sanitizer is better for healthcare facilities than products with lower ethanol concentrations. It also includes a mixture of glycerol and hydrogen peroxide, which prevents infection.
Why It’s Important to Use the Correct Hand Sanitizers
While there are many other types of hand sanitizers that can help protect you from COVID-19, there are some that offer little to no protection. Choosing the wrong sanitizer without realizing it could put you and others at risk, which is why it’s so important to use the correct products.
The higher concentration of alcohol in your sanitizer, the more effective it’s likely to be against the virus. Recent studies have confirmed that sanitizers containing 80% alcohol, 1.45% glycerine and 0.125% hydrogen peroxide can eliminate the coronavirus within 30 seconds of contact. Concentrations of alcohol that dip below 60% offer less potent disinfectant capabilities.
Before choosing a hand sanitizer, it’s important to read all the active ingredients on the label first to make sure it has an appropriate alcohol content level. Also, you can check FDA updates to make sure your brand of sanitizer is safe to use.
Where to Buy Hand Sanitizer
With the right hand sanitizer products, you can enjoy some peace of mind by protecting both yourself and your workers from the risks of COVID-19. In these uncertain times, it’s important to take extra precautions, especially in the medical and scientific industries.
As COVID-19 spreads, medical researchers continue to search for ways to make the testing methods more accurate and efficient. Currently, the standard type of testing for COVID-19 is PCR testing, which involves the examination of RNA for antigens. This allows medical professionals to detect COVID-19 early on, helping them treat patients and prevent further spread of the illness.
In vitro testing options rely on samples of blood or mucus from the bodies of patients. While these methods are currently labeled under Emergency Use Authorization by the FDA thanks to the urgent need for testing and treatment, you may need to overcome supply issues to test high volumes of patients.
These options will provide you with alternatives in the event that a type of swab, media or component becomes unavailable.
Specimen Collection Swabs
Specimen collection swabs play an important role in gathering mucus from patients so doctors can determine whether or not they have COVID-19. In most cases, the doctor swabs the inside of the nose or mouth and then places the swab into a tube or vial for testing.
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), multiple types of swabs are suitable for COVID-19 tests, including:
Mercedes Scientific provides testing options that can help you better manage potential COVID-19 patients. For example, we offer the ENI MTM04 Virus Sampling Kit, which comes with both a 10mL transport medium and a nasal flocked swab. Before you choose a swab for your application, it’s important to make sure it is compatible with the platform and the body part being tested.
Specimen Collection Media
When you need safe and sterile transport media for a COVID-19 test, there are a few options you can choose from. These include:
Viral transport media (VTM)
Inactivating transport media
Liquid amies-based media
A normal or phosphate-buffered saline solution
Transport media such as the ENI PSMTM3 PrimeStore® 3mL Vial, ENI PSMTM4 PrimeStore® 4mL Vial, and the ENI PSMTM5 PrimeStore® 5mL Vial can help you move samples safely to their proper location. These vials offer a 1.5ml fill, which makes them ideal for multipurpose applications. These different COVID-19 testing options give you more flexibility, allowing you to provide better testing accuracy for patients.
The FDA has issued a warning for certain types of collection media. Inactivating transport media can be hazardous if handled incorrectly. Some types of PrimeStore® inactivation transport media contain guanidine thiocyanate and similar guanidine chemicals, which react with bleach to create cyanide gas. This is a dangerous reaction that can compromise your safety in the lab, so it’s important to take reasonable precautions before using this inactivating specimen collection media.
Use Your Resources to Conduct Efficient COVID-19 Tests
There are several safe alternatives you can use in PCR testing to achieve high-quality results. The FDA names multiple systems, tools and solutions that can be used to handle patient samples. This ensures that, if a shortage does occur, you can consider alternative options.
Contact us or check the FDA’s list of alternatives for more information on COVID-19 testing options.
Web pricing includes changes made for short term promotions and other offers, this does not constitute a new quote or permanent pricing adjustment. Web pricing may vary from quoted pricing by a sales representative. The names of various manufacturers, their instruments, and their products contained within web site content, web-based advertisements, email advertisements and/or online catalogs may be protected by trademark or other law, and are used herein solely for purpose of reference. Mercedes Medical expressly disclaims any affiliation with or sponsorship by the companies referred to herein. References that Mercedes Medical may make to any names, marks, products or services of third parties do not necessarily constitute or imply Mercedes Medical’s affiliation with, endorsement of, or endorsement by the third party, product or service.