Rapid tests for both Covid and flu don’t prove infections are the same thing

5 October 2023
What was claimed

A test labelled “COVID-19/Influenza A&B Antigen Test Kit” is evidence that the Covid-19 was flu all along.

Our verdict

False. The kit pictured tests for both Covid-19 and two types of flu. The viruses causing these are all different, though some of the symptoms can overlap.

Multiple posts on social media feature a photo of a box labelled “Covid-19/Influenza A&B Antigen Test Kit”, with claims that it proves Covid “was the flu all along”.

But the test in question detects the markers of three different types of virus—SARS-CoV-2 (which causes Covid-19) influenza A and influenza B. 

Images of the rapid test in question show it is a combination dual test, with two panels—one detects Covid-19 antigens and another that detects influenza A and B. Depending on which lines appear, the test can show people whether they are positive for any of the three infections.

The existence of this test therefore does not show that Covid-19 and the flu are the same thing.

They can have some overlapping symptoms, and have other similarities. Both are respiratory illnesses, may spread in similar ways and some of the same groups of people are at higher risk of severe illness from both.

But as we’ve explained before, flu and Covid-19 are two different diseases caused by different pathogens. 

Multiple research groups have isolated the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 and determined its entire genetic makeup by sequencing its genome.

Misinformation like this can cause direct damage to people’s physical health, create distrust of medical professionals, and undermine public health messaging.

Image courtesy of Towfiqu barbhuiya

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