Augusta experts are making huge steps and providing new insight on coinfections, viral spread and COVIDNovember 16, 20212 min read
With mask wearing and social distancing on the decline and the cold and flu season upon us, researchers have developed a viral panel that enables the simultaneous testing for SARS-CoV-2 along with numerous common respiratory viruses, that tells us whether other viruses also are at play in patients hard hit by COVID.
This new genetic epidemiology tool that provides detailed genetic information about the viruses present when packaged with a molecular immunology model called Nextstrain also enables researchers to assess the novel viral variants that are circulating in a state or nation and patterns for their spread with the goal of helping predict and mitigate future outbreaks, says Dr. Ravindra Kolhe, director of the Georgia Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory, or GEM Lab, at the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University.
Deficits in SARS-CoV-2 monitoring and keeping tabs on other co-circulating respiratory viruses have been public health challenges during the pandemic, Kolhe and his colleagues report in the journal Viruses.
Coinfection is a reality, Kolhe says with these respiratory viruses that we unwittingly transmit through the air when we cough, sneeze, even talk, particularly when we are in close quarters for long periods like hospitals, nursing homes, schools and potentially even our workplace.
Another reality is that coinfections can have the compounding effect of worsening symptoms and outcomes, much as we have all heard that co-morbid conditions like diabetes and hypertension can do, he says.
Particularly when patients are not doing well, looking for other respiratory viruses with the new panel could help provide insight on why and possibly new directions on how to help, he says. The more expansive panel is more expensive than straight COVID testing, which will remain the frontline test in this pandemic, Kolhe predicts.
While the cold and flu season were essentially a wash last year because of COVID precautions like mask wearing — in fact the coinfection rate in the group they studied was under 1% — he and others are concerned the cold and flu season now upon us will be very different even with vaccination initiatives for both COVID and the flu.
We’ve attached the full article – and it is well worth reading given the timing of flu season and another potential wave of COVID emerging globally.
This is a fascinating topic and if you are a journalist covering the latest advancements in the effort to contain and eradicate COVID-19 – then let our leading experts help with your coverage and questions.
Ravindra Kolhe is a Molecular and Genetic Pathologist, involved in identifying and validating cutting-edge platforms for diagnostic medicine. He’s also the Director of the Georgia Esoteric & Molecular Laboratory at Augusta University. If you are looking to arrange an interview with Dr. Kolhe – simply click on his icon now to find a time to talk today.
Ravindra Kolhe, PhD Director, Georgia Esoteric & Molecular Laboratory at Augusta University
Ravindra Kolhe is a Molecular and Genetic Pathologist, involved in identifying and validating cutting-edge platforms for diagnostic medicine