It's easy these days to take an at-home COVID test when you have symptoms like a fever and sore throat. But when the test is negative, the next step toward diagnosis usually means leaving the comforts of home. [MedScape]
But that could soon change. The FDA says it is confident that at-home rapid tests like those for COVID-19 are forthcoming for the flu and respiratory syncytial virus, or RSV.
The division of the National Institutes of Health that helped create rapid COVID tests confirmed it is partnering with developers on combination tests that can look for multiple respiratory illnesses.
Combination tests that can look for the markers of more than one disease are called multianalyte. Europe and Australia already have over-the-counter tests that look for flu and RSV along with COVID-19.
"We will be authorizing at-home flu and/or RSV tests that are multianalyte with COVID," an FDA official told WebMD. "I can't tell you exactly when that would happen, but we are eager to do that."
Making such an at-home test possible would be in line with the FDA's goals to expand healthcare equity and affordability, the official said.
Right now, the process for developing and applying for FDA approval of combination tests is less complicated and expensive for developers under special pandemic rules. Developers get extensive assistance from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering at the NIH, particularly in the area of validation studies.
The institute has already helped develop combination tests that can be used in healthcare settings, says its director, Bruce Tromberg, PhD.