A front-page article in a recent issue of the College of American Pathologists' publication CAP Today features three Mayo Clinic Department of Laboratory Medicine and Pathology experts: Bobbi Pritt, M.D., chair of the Division of Clinical Microbiology, along with clinical virologists Matthew Binnicker, Ph.D., and Joseph Yao, M.D.
The in-depth article examines how the onset of flu season has the potential to further complicate testing challenges posed by COVID-19. It also reviews how ongoing hurdles to efficient COVID-19 testing, such as supply chain disruption, could be magnified as other respiratory illnesses, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), become more prominent during the winter.
Dr. Pritt explains that, moving into flu season, Mayo Clinic Laboratories' goal is to offer standalone COVID-19 testing, as well as combination tests that can detect SARS-CoV-2, influenza A, influenza B and RSV to individuals who may be at risk for more than one of those illnesses.
"Thankfully, we are seeing tests coming on the market that offer those different combinations," Dr. Pritt says. "But, like everyone, we are not immune to the supply chain shortages."
The article goes on describe the complexity of navigating the ever-changing COVID-19 test landscape as new tests come on the market, but availability of supplies continue to fluctuate. Add in the unpredictability of human behavior and COVID fatigue, and it's clear the coming months could be the most challenging of the pandemic yet.
"We have to prepare for the fact that people might be so burnt out, they might stop all those helpful (infection prevention) measures. Then we could see a really steep rise in cases," Dr. Pritt says. "We continue to prepare for the worst, hoping we won’t need to be in that worst-case scenario."