The first testing kit granted market approval in China that can screen people for both the novel coronavirus and the influenza virus is also being prepared for entry to overseas markets, a senior executive of its developer said.
"Some foreign countries and regions have already expressed strong interest in the product and we're preparing for its registration to access those markets," said Xiong Lei, founder and chairman of 3DMed Diagnostics, a medical testing solutions provider based in Shanghai.
Medical institutions and disease prevention and control departments across China have expressed strong willingness to purchase the nucleic acid testing kit, he said.
"Once we obtain the production license, we'll kick off production and deliver the goods as quickly as possible to meet the screening and pandemic prevention needs of front-line medical institutions," Xiong said.
The Shanghai Science and Technology Commission said recently that the testing kit, which can screen individuals for the two viruses at once and distinguish between them, was granted market approval by the National Medical Products Administration on Aug 16.
Xiong said that in China and the United States, where COVID-19 testing kits are subject to strict medical product approval, the new kit was the first of its kind to be based on a fluorescence quantitative polymerase chain reaction platform.
Experts said patients suffering from novel coronavirus pneumonia and influenza may show similar clinical symptoms, such as fever, sore throat, cough and fatigue, and even CT scan images of their lungs may look similar.
The availability of such a combined testing kit will help doctors determine why a patient is running a fever and choose the best medical treatment plan as soon as possible, the company said.
It will also help doctors and medical institutions respond swiftly to avoid the spread of COVID-19, it added.
The testing kit is sensitive to all COVID-19 virus variants so far, including the highly transmissible Delta variant, it said.
Peng Zhibin, director of the respiratory diseases prevention and control office at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, told a seminar on Saturday that the number of influenza cases has shrunk due to measures introduced to bring the COVID-19 pandemic under control, but individuals and society as a whole need to stay alert to possible flu pandemic risks.
"Moreover, because of those protection measures, people may be less immune to the flu virus, which can be a hidden danger to trigger an influenza outbreak," he said.