HealthDay News – About 20% of specimens positive for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection are positive for other respiratory pathogens, according to a research letter published online April 15 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

David Kim, MD, PhD, from Stanford University School of Medicine in California, and colleagues performed real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction tests for SARS-CoV-2 and other respiratory pathogens on nasopharyngeal swabs of symptomatic patients. The proportion of specimens positive for SARS-CoV-2 and for each non-SARS-CoV-2 pathogen was calculated.

The researchers found that 9.5% of 1217 specimens were positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 26.1% were positive for one or more non-SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. Of the 116 specimens positive for SARS-CoV-2, 20.7% were positive for one or more additional pathogen compared with 26.7% of the 1101 specimens negative for SARS-CoV-2 (difference, 6.0%; 95% confidence interval, −2.3 to 14.3%). Rhinovirus/enterovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and non-SARS-CoV-2 Coronaviridae were the most common coinfections (6.9, 5.2, and 4.3%, respectively). Of the specimens positive for one or more non-SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, 7.5% were positive for SARS-CoV-2 compared with 10.2% among the specimens negative for other pathogens (difference, 2.7%; 95% confidence interval, −1.0 to 6.4%).

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“These results suggest that routine testing for non-SARS-CoV-2 respiratory pathogens during the COVID-19 pandemic is unlikely to provide clinical benefit unless a positive result would change disease management,” the authors write.

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