TUESDAY, April 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- About 20 percent 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, M.D., Ph.D., 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 percent of 1,217 specimens were positive for SARS-CoV-2 and 26.1 percent were positive for one or more non-SARS-CoV-2 pathogen. Of the 116 specimens positive for SARS-CoV-2, 20.7 percent were positive for one or more additional pathogen compared with 26.7 percent of the 1,101 specimens negative for SARS-CoV-2 (difference, 6.0 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, −2.3 to 14.3 percent). Rhinovirus/enterovirus, respiratory syncytial virus, and non-SARS-CoV-2 Coronaviridae were the most common coinfections (6.9, 5.2, and 4.3 percent, respectively). Of the specimens positive for one or more non-SARS-CoV-2 pathogen, 7.5 percent were positive for SARS-CoV-2 compared with 10.2 percent among the specimens negative for other pathogens (difference, 2.7 percent; 95 percent confidence interval, −1.0 to 6.4 percent).
"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.