DOH adviser: No, having influenza will not give you a positive RT-PCR result

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jan 05 2022 02:54 AM

Healthcare workers dressed up in full PPE suits administer RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 at a private company in Quezon City on April 10, 2021. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/file
Healthcare workers dressed up in full PPE suits administer RT-PCR tests for COVID-19 at a private company in Quezon City on April 10, 2021. Fernando G. Sepe Jr., ABS-CBN News/file

MANILA—Dr. Edsel Salvana, a member of the Department of Health technical advisory group, on Tuesday debunked rumors that having influenza will cause one to get a positive RT-PCR test result.

Such talk apparently started to circulate after the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued an advisory regarding its decision to retire the use of the CDC 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel after December 31, 2021. 

The advisory was originally issued on July 21, 2021, but recent news articles misinterpreted the reason why it was retired, with some alleging the test confuses COVID-19 virus with influenza, thus giving a false positive result.

According to Salvana, this was misinterpreted, saying the CDC retired the old RT-PCR test because there were new and better tests available.

"It did not fail. This test was not unreliable. The only reason they are removing it is because they have better tests and there are other tests that they want to focus on," Salvana said.

"Hindi po totoo that the influenza can give you a positive COVID-19 test. That is fake news po."

(It's not true that the influenza can give you a positive COVID-19 test. That is fake news.)

Salvana further explained that the CDC only retired one brand, and it remained valid despite its retirement.

"There is no truth to the rumor that influenza will cause a positive COVID-19 test. They removed the test because they are replacing it with a different test, and it does not invalidate any PCR tests for COVID-19," he said.

"Hindi po talaga pwedeng mag-positive sa COVID test ang influenza because it does not have the correct genetic material to make the test positive."

(It is impossible for influenza to cause a positive COVID-19 test because it does not have the correct genetic material to make the test positive.)

Salvana said all RT-PCR tests used in the Philippines were reliable and would not confuse COVID-19 with the common flu.

"And we can be assured po that our RT-PCRs are reliable and they will not confuse COVID-19 with the flu," he said.

The Philippines on Tuesday reported 5,434 fresh COVID-19 cases, the highest since Oct. 23.

The country has been classified as high risk for COVID-19 following the sharp rise in new cases.