Iowa officials ponder purchase of new combo tests for COVID-19 and the flu

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State officials are exploring how to buy and distribute a single test that can detect both Covid and seasonal flu.

Governor Kim Reynolds says public health officials are discussing how to get the materials for the kits used to conduct the tests and whether the state might offer the tests for free. “They’ve been very proactive in trying to be ready and trying to anticipate what a flu season looks like,” Reynolds says. “How do we do a multiple test, if that becomes necessary? What happens if we have a vaccine? You know there’s all of those things are discussed.”

Reynolds says these new tests for both the flu and Covid are not part of the six-month contract with Test Iowa suppliers and the free Covid tests that can be scheduled through a smartphone app.

“At the beginning, it may be something that we can work in conjunction with our schools or with our long-term care facilities,” Reynolds says.

It’s unclear at the moment whether the drive-through sites around the state for Covid tests could be used for this new test for both Covid and the flu.

“It depends on what that specimen looks like or how that’s taken,” Reynolds says, “…and then how we would make those available to the public.”

The governor used federal coronavirus relief money to pay the $26 million contract with Utah companies that have supplied the state with 540,000 Covid test kits. If the state doesn’t buy the test kits that detect both Covid and the flu, they are likely to be available for a fee through Iowa health care providers in the coming weeks.

The Food and Drug Administration has approved the distribution of three different combination tests that detect both Covid and influenza.

— Radio Iowa