Comparative analysis of three laboratory based serological assays for SARS-CoV-2 in an Australian cohort

Published:September 29, 2020DOI:


      Many unanswered questions remain regarding the role of SARS-CoV-2 serological assays in this unfolding COVID-19 pandemic. These include their utility for the diagnosis of acute SARS-CoV-2 infection, past infection or exposure, correlation with immunity and the effective duration of immunity. This study examined the performance of three laboratory based serological assays, EUROIMMUN Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgA/IgG, MAGLUMI 2000 Plus 2019-nCov IgM/IgG and EDI Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) IgM/IgG immunoassays.
      We evaluated 138 samples from a reference non-infected population and 71 samples from a cohort of 37 patients with SARS-CoV-2 confirmed positive by RT-PCR. The samples were collected at various intervals of 0–45 days post symptoms onset (PSO).
      Specificity and sensitivity of these assays was 60.9%/71.4% (IgA) and 94.2%/63.3% (IgG) for EUROIMMUN; 98.5%/18.4% (IgM) and 97.8%/53.1% (IgG) for MAGLUMI; and 94.9%/22.5% (IgM) and 93.5%/57.1% (IgG) for EDI, respectively. When samples collected ≥14 days PSO were considered, the sensitivities were 100.0 and 100.0%; 31.0 and 82.8%; 34.5 and 57.1%, respectively. Using estimated population prevalence of 0.1, 1, and 10%, the positive predictive value of all assays remained low.
      The EUROIMMUN Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgA lacked specificity for acute diagnosis and all IgM assays offered poor diagnostic utility. Seroconversion can be delayed although all patients had seroconverted at 28 days in our cohort with the EUROIMMUN Anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG. Despite this, with specificity of only 94% this assay would not be satisfactory for seroprevalence studies in the general Australian population given this is likely to be currently <1%.

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