• Open Access

Emerging point of care tests for influenza: innovation or status quo


Derek J. Ward, National Horizon Scanning Centre, School of Health and Population Sciences, University of Birmingham, 90, Vincent Drive, Edgbaston, Birmingham B15 2SP, UK. E-mail: d.j.ward@bham.ac.uk


Please cite this paper as: Tayo A et al. (2012) Emerging point of care tests for influenza: innovation or status quo. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 6(4), 291–298.

Background  Point of care tests (POCTs) for influenza potentially offer earlier diagnosis, enabling specific treatment, infection control measures and greater patient convenience and satisfaction. Current POCTs have limited sensitivity, some cannot distinguish influenza types, none differentiate subtypes and are relatively expensive.

Aims  To identify and characterise influenza POCTs expected to be available for clinical use in the UK by mid-2013, highlighting those with potential benefits over existing tests.

Methods  Potential developers of influenza POCTs were identified through known manufacturers’ websites, Medical Technology trade associations, the EuroScan International Network, an expert advisory group and by searching relevant online sources. Identified companies were asked to provide standard information on relevant technologies.

Results  Fifty-six companies were identified, and 29 (52%) responded, identifying 57 potentially relevant technologies. Of these, 40 (70%) were already available or had undetermined status and 5 (9%) were excluded as time to results took over 60 minutes. Of the remaining 12 emerging POCTs, 10 (83%) reportedly enabled differentiation of influenza types and eight differentiation of A subtypes. Nasopharyngeal swabs were the most commonly acceptable sample type; the sample volume ranging from 80 μl to 1·4 ml.

Discussion  Most identified emerging influenza POCTs offered differentiation of influenza type and subtype. Tests claiming this capability include several incorporating reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction assays; though, these also had the longest time to result. However, whilst some identified POCTs exhibit high sensitivity and specificity, most lack published clinical data for assessment, and the overall costs of these technologies remains largely unknown.