Almost three years since the beginning of the COVID 19 pandemic, COVID denial posts are still frequent on social media. One such post, carrying the image of a “COVID/Influenza A&B” combo test kit, claims that COVID19 is the same as influenza. Newschecker has found the claim to be misleading.
Twitter handle @BernieSpofforth was among the many users who shared the claim on the social media platform, with the text “Packaging update”, insinuating that the two diseases were in fact one and the same. The tweet garnered close to 5000 retweets and 12.4k likes.
Several other users also shared the same image questioning the difference between the two illnesses.
Fact check/ Verification
Newschecker began by closely analysing the viral image and noticed that it read “COVID19-Influenza A&B antigen Test kit” and the description “A lateral flow immunoassay for the qualitative detection of SARS-COV-2, influenza A and influenza B viral nucleoprotein antigens in nasal swabs from subjects.”
We conducted a keyword search on Google using the keywords ‘Fanttest COVID19/Influenza A&B antigen testing kit” and found the same product listed in various e-commerce websites predominantly in Australia.
The product description in Amazon Australia mentioned that it was a three-in-one combination testing kit, indicating that it was not a single result that was used to detect both flu and COVID.
The product description listed in the website of Heathershaw Compounding Pharmacy carried the images of the product, in which one can clearly see that the testing cassette is broader and carried two different specimen wells, as opposed to the much thinner, single specimen well seen in the usual self testing kits for COVID19. It also carried clear demarcation of specimen wells for both COVID19 and Influenza A&B.
The Centre For Disease Control states that while the two diseases are both contagious respiratory illnesses, they both are caused by different viruses. “Compared with flu, COVID-19 can cause more severe illness in some people. Compared to people with flu, people infected with COVID-19 may take longer to show symptoms and may be contagious for longer periods of time,” the CDC says, adding that COVID spreads more easily than flu.
Highlighting the difference between the two viruses, the WHO clarifies, “So the flu is very common, especially in the season, and usually the symptoms are fever, headache, muscle ache, but also upper respiratory symptoms such as sneezing and coughing. For COVID-19 it’s the same symptoms, basically, but in addition, we have specific symptoms such as anosmia, which is a lack of smell and ageusia, which is a lack of taste. And many people, especially young people, have experienced these additional and specific symptoms for COVID-19.”
A combination self-testing kit which has multiple tests, for both influenza and COVID, is being shared with the claim that the same test can be used to detect both the illnesses, insinuating that the two diseases are the same.
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