Why choose RT-PCR for Influenza or RSV?

According to the CDC, RT-PCR testing has:

  • High sensitivity and very high specificity compared to antigen testing
  • Can differentiate COVID-19. influenza A/B and RSV
  • Is highly recommended for older children and adults due to the lower viral load in their respiratory specimens, making antigen testing less sensitive for this age group

Rapid RT-PCR assay performed by nurses at triage to detect influenza A/B is feasible and highly accurate. This claim is supported by this study conducted in which a total of 92 (49%) assays were performed. The results show the median time from patient entry to rapid RT-PCR assay results was 46 [interquartile range 36–55 minutes]. The sensitivity and specificity of these assays were 0.98 (95% confidence interval: 0.91–1.00).


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