Did the CDC just withdraw the PCR test for COVID-19, because it could not differentiate between COVID-19 and the flu virus?
Take a look at this new “viral” claim, and find out what the FACTS really are!
Did CDC Admit PCR Test Can’t Tell Apart COVID + Flu Virus?
People are now sharing news that the CDC just “quietly” withdrew the PCR test for COVID-19, after they “quietly” admitted that it could not differentiate between COVID-19 and the flu virus.
It’s a long post, so just skip to the next section for the facts…
Truth : CDC Did Not Admit PCR Test Can’t Tell Apart COVID + Flu Virus
This is actually a reboot of old fake news from July 2021, after CDC announced that they were withdrawing their EUA (Emergency Use Authorisation) for the COVID-19 RT-PCR test.
The truth is – the CDC did not withdraw the PCR test because it couldn’t differentiate the COVID-19 virus from the flu virus.
It was fake news back then, and it’s still fake news today… and here are the reasons why.
Fact #1 : COVID-19 Only PCR Test Wastes Time + Resources
A patient’s sample is usually tested against a panel of multiple respiratory illnesses, allowing a single PCR test to detect and differentiate for multiple viruses.
Using PCR to test for a single pathogen like the SARS-CoV-2 virus is incredibly wasteful, because another PCR test would have to be performed to test for other pathogens, wasting time and laboratory resources.
However, to speed things up in the COVID-19 pandemic, the US CDC released a PCR test panel in February 2020, that only tested for the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
Fact #2 : CDC Only Withdrew EUA For COVID-19 Specific PCR Test
When the US CDC released their COVID-19 specific PCR test, they had to apply to the US FDA for an Emergency Use Authorisation (EUA).
This EUA was necessary to allow patients to be tested for a single infectious agent (the SARS-CoV-2 virus) in a given emergency (the COVID-19 pandemic), because a single pathogen PCR assay wastes time and laboratory resources.
On 21 July 2021, the CDC announced that they would be withdrawing their UEA request for their old COVID-19 only PCR test after 31 December 2021.
To be clear – the CDC was not withdrawing other COVID-19 PCR tests, only their old test.
Fact #3 : Old CDC PCR Test Only Detects COVID-19
The old CDC PCR test for COVID-19 only looks for the SARS-CoV-2 virus. It therefore cannot detect any influenza virus.
But that does not mean it can mistakenly identify the influenza (flu) virus as COVID-19, as COVID-19 deniers and antivaxxers are claiming.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus is a coronavirus – a completely different virus than the flu (influenza) virus. It is not possible for any PCR test to mix them up.
Fact #4 : Labs Asked To Switch To Multi-Analyte Panels
In their 21 July 2021 laboratory alert, the CDC asked laboratories to switch to the many FDA-approved multi-analyte PCR tests for COVID-19 and other viruses.
In other words, they are asking laboratories to switch from a single pathogen PCR test, to a PCR test that can detect and differentiate multiple viruses.
This saves time and laboratory resources, as a single patient sample can be used to test for multiple viruses in a single test.
Fact #5 : PCR Tests Can Differentiate COVID-19 From Flu Viruses
Let me be clear – PCR tests, then and now, can detect and differentiate the COVID-19 virus (SARS-CoV-2) from the influenza (flu) viruses.
The only difference is whether they do it in a single PCR test, or two PCR tests.
If the old CDC panel is used, then the laboratory will have to run two PCR tests to do that. The newer multi-analyte panels allow laboratories to accomplish that in a single test.
Fact #6 : Multi-Analyte Panels Save Time + Resources
The CDC withdrew their EUA for the COVID-19 only test, because the newer multi-analyte panels save time and resources, by testing the patient’s sample for multiple pathogens
This is especially important during the flu season – doctors can quickly determine if the patient has COVID-19, or just influenza, or in rare cases – both of them at the same time!
Fact #7 : CDC Withdrawal Of Old PCR Test Was Covered Extensively
The claim that CDC quietly withdrew their old PCR test is false. The CDC issued a laboratory alert that is publicly available to everyone on the Internet.
The claim that this test withdrawal “received no attention from the media” is also false. The media covered the news back in July 2021, and I even wrote a fact check back then.
Fact #8 : Flu Cases Dropped Because Of COVID-19 Precautions
Flu cases did not drop because the PCR tests no longer detected the influenza virus. They were always detectable through PCR tests.
Influenza is a respiratory virus that spreads through droplets, just like SARS-CoV-2. Therefore, the same COVID-19 precautions – wearing a face mask, social distancing and maintaining good hand hygiene – protect us against the flu as well.
When many people started taking COVID-19 precautions, they were also protected from other respiratory viruses like the flu. Flu cases naturally dropped.
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