A ’tripledemic’ winter is coming, experts are warning and the NHS are preparing for Covid-19, influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) cases to peak at the height of the holiday season.
In response, a new rapid PCR test has just been launched, that can detect if people’s symptoms are caused by Covid, flu or RSV. 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 following viruses at once: Covid-19, 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 are especially at risk of developing a severe RSV infection resulting in hospitalisation.
The leading testing expert, Dr Quinton Fivelman PhD, Chief Scientific Officer at London Medical Laboratory, said, ‘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 once 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. It’s concerning that the latest RSV figures from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) show 23.4% of children under 5 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. 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-19 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 result, via email, by the evening of the day our lab receives their sample.
‘Why is it vital to know which respiratory illness we may be suffering from? 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-19 should stay home and avoid contact with other people for 5 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 current strains of flu that are circulating 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, 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.’