The combination test tests for SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A and B, the two strains that cause the most flu in the Netherlands. Only one purchase is required. The swab is then tested for multiple infections in the lab.
This type of combination testing is not new. Combined PCR tests have been used in hospitals for years. To test a vulnerable patient for several infectious diseases at once, for example.
The combination test meets a need. Now that the corona figures are rising again and a severe flu season may be approaching, companies are concerned. De Boer: “It is now difficult for every company to find staff, at the same time many employees are going back to the office and there is more contact with each other. Some companies have tens of thousands of employees. They want to be prepared and not have another 10 percent failure like last year.”
Coronalab.eu asks 79 euros for the combination test, a tenner more than the ‘normal’ PCR test. The company’s laboratory (Microbe&Lab) is a laboratory for corona tests validated by RIVM. The combination tests are certified for professional use. “Our doctors or nurses take the test,” says De Boer. So it’s not about self-testing.
Is this test desirable?
Is it a desirable development that we now also test for flu? “You can fill a talk show about that ethical consideration”, is the diplomatic answer from director De Boer. He emphasizes that companies have a responsibility for the health of their employees.
Practice will show how companies will use the test. Do they ask employees with complaints to do the combination test or does everyone receive that request? What happens to an employee who tests positive for the flu, even if he or she has no complaints? Should he or she go home?
Coronalab.eu has companies as customers that have their staff or part of them tested for corona once a week. De Boer: “Some find it useful to also add the flu to this. They want to have an overview of illness in their company. I don’t know how the results are dealt with. But the fact remains that you are in charge of your own health. body and the choice to test.”
Checking for corona or flu, is that allowed?
An employer is not allowed to check its staff for corona itself, says the Dutch Data Protection Authority. Only a (company) doctor may check employees. The doctor only shares the results with the employee. The FNV trade union adds that an employer may not oblige a test or vaccination. You are therefore not obliged to show a test certificate, vaccination certificate or corona admission ticket.
Possibly also quick test
Soon Coronalab.eu will probably also offer combination rapid tests (antigen tests), for 39 euros. Additional research is required first. Director De Boer: “For the time being, we only use the PCR test, which is very sensitive and good. We will then test the rapid tests for reliability with saved anonymous samples. If that goes well, we will also offer them.”