Emerging from one of the greatest public health crises of all time, rapid antigen tests are a technology that has revolutionised our approach to infection control.
Now our attention turns to influenza, something similar in danger yet something we are used to. Many downplay its severity and its impact. Influenza has been at the centre of many epidemics and indeed pandemics, the 1918 being the first of three, the most recent being the 2003 outbreak of swine flu.
This is a highly contagious disease that is responsible for putting many out of work every winter. When corporate companies are urgently trying to retain staff and bring people back to the workplace, we here recognise that it is an efficient virus that can, in a sustained and predictable way, spread quickly through close contacts.
Many can be thankful to not have been affected, or not affect others, by early detection of their Covid-19 symptoms. This self-managed diagnosis and subsequent isolation has minimised the impacts on productivity for many businesses during the Covid-19 pandemic. We can apply this same model to influenza, which can have similar impacts.
Current flu outbreaks are proving equally damaging than the current effects of the Covid-19 pandemic. Covid-19, specifically the Omicron and Son-of-Omicron variants, has been compared with ‘flu. Many don’t realise that ‘flu kills over 660,000 people every year globally.
While rapid antigen tests are not a cure or medicine, they are effective in slowing and stopping the spread. Extending rapid antigen tests beyond Covid-19 to include the addition of Influenza A and B, is almost more relevant to the post-Covid environment. While some might see this as hyper-sensitivity and post-pandemic pedantism. In reality it reflects how the pandemic has boosted our awareness of how to manage infections, how to keep our staff healthy and well, and how to manage difficult situations.