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Open accessPosted ContentDOI: 10.1101/2021.02.27.21252427

Comparative performance of SARS CoV-2 lateral flow antigen tests demonstrates their utility for high sensitivity detection of infectious virus in clinical specimens

02 Mar 2021-medRxiv (Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press)-
Abstract: Background Rapid antigen lateral flow devices (LFDs) are set to become a cornerstone of SARS-CoV-2 mass community testing. However, their reduced sensitivity compared to PCR has raised questions of how well they identify infectious cases. Understanding their capabilities and limitations is therefore essential for successful implementation. To address this, we evaluated six commercial LFDs on the same collection of clinical samples and assessed their correlation with infectious virus culture and cycle threshold (Ct) values. Methods A head-to-head comparison of specificities and sensitivities was performed on six commercial rapid antigen tests using combined nasal/oropharyngeal swabs, and their limits of detection determined using viral plaque forming units (PFU). Three of the LFDs were selected for a further study, correlating antigen test result with RT-PCR Ct values and positive viral culture in Vero-E6 cells. This included sequential swabs and matched serum samples obtained from four infected individuals with varying disease severities. Detection of antibodies was performed using an IgG/IgM Rapid Test Cassette, and neutralising antibodies by infectious virus assay. Finally, the sensitivities of selected rapid antigen LFTs were assessed in swabs with confirmed B.1.1.7 variant, currently the dominant genotype in the UK. Findings Most of the rapid antigen LFDs showed a high specificity (>98%), and accurately detected 50 PFU/test (equivalent N1 Ct of 23.7 or RNA copy number of 3×106/ml). Sensitivities of the LFDs performed on clinical samples ranged from 65 to 89%. These sensitivities increased in most tests to over 90% for samples with Cts lower than 25. Positive virus culture was achieved for 57 out of 141 samples, with 80% of the positive cultures from swabs with Cts lower than 23. Importantly, sensitivity of the LFDs increased to over 95% when compared with the detection of infectious virus alone, irrespective of Ct. Longitudinal studies of PCR-positive samples showed that most of the tests identified all infectious samples as positive, but differences in test sensitivities can lead to missed cases in the absence of repeated testing. Finally, test performance was not impacted when re-assessed against swabs positive for the dominant UK variant B.1.1.7. Interpretation In this comprehensive comparison of antigen LFD and virus infectivity, we demonstrate a clear relationship between Ct values, quantitative culture of infectious virus and antigen LFD positivity in clinical samples. Our data support regular testing of target groups using LFDs to supplement the current PCR testing capacity, to rapidly identify infected individuals in situations where they would otherwise go undetected. Funding King’s Together Rapid COVID-19, Medical Research Council, Wellcome Trust, Huo Family Foundation.

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Topics: Viral culture (55%)
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7 results found


Open accessPosted ContentDOI: 10.1101/2021.02.26.21252546
01 Mar 2021-medRxiv
Abstract: Background SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) are increasingly being integrated in testing strategies around the world. Studies of the Ag-RDTs have shown variable performance. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we assessed the clinical accuracy (sensitivity and specificity) of commercially available Ag-RDTs. Methods We registered the review on PROSPERO (Registration number: CRD42020225140). We systematically searched multiple databases (PubMed, Web of Science Core Collection, medRvix and bioRvix, FINDdx) for publications up until December 11th, 2020. Descriptive analyses of all studies were performed and when more than four studies were available, a random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate pooled sensitivity and specificity in comparison to reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction testing. We assessed heterogeneity by subgroup analyses ((1) performed con-form with manufacturer’s instructions for use (IFU) or not, (2) symptomatic vs. asymptomatic, (3) duration of symptoms less than seven days vs. more than seven days, (4) Ct-value Results From a total of 11,715 articles, we extracted 98 analytical and clinical data sets. 74 clinical accuracy data sets were evaluated that included 31,202 samples. Across all meta-analyzed samples, the pooled Ag-RDT sensitivity was 73.8% (CI 68.6 to 78.5). If analysis was restricted to studies that followed the Ag-RDT manufacturers’ instructions using fresh upper respiratory swab samples, the sensitivity increased to 79.1% (95%CI 75.0 to 82.8). The SD Biosensor Standard Q and Abbott Panbio showed the highest sensitivity with 81.7% and 72.7%, respectively. The best Ag-RDT performance was found with nasopharyngeal sampling (77.3%, CI 72.0 to 81.9) in comparison to other sample types (e.g., anterior nasal or mid turbinate 63.5%, CI 49.5 to 75.5). Testing in the first week from symptom onset resulted in higher sensitivity (87.5%, CI 86.0 to 89.1) compared to testing after one week (64.1%, CI 54.4 to 73.8). The tests performed markedly better on samples with lower Ct-values, i.e., Conclusion As Ag-RDTs detect most cases within the first week of symptom onset and those with high viral load, they can have high utility for screening purposes in the early phase of disease, and thus can be a valuable tool to fight the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Standardization of conduct and reporting of clinical accuracy studies would improve comparability and use of data. Summary In this living systematic review we analyzed 98 data sets for performance of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs compared to RT-PCR. Best-performing tests achieved a sensitivity of 81.7%. Highest sensitivity was found in patients within seven days of symptom onset when NP swabs were utilized.

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17 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1371/JOURNAL.PMED.1003735
12 Aug 2021-PLOS Medicine
Abstract: Background SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) are increasingly being integrated in testing strategies around the world. Studies of the Ag-RDTs have shown variable performance. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, we assessed the clinical accuracy (sensitivity and specificity) of commercially available Ag-RDTs. Methods and findings We registered the review on PROSPERO (registration number: CRD42020225140). We systematically searched multiple databases (PubMed, Web of Science Core Collection, medRvix, bioRvix, and FIND) for publications evaluating the accuracy of Ag-RDTs for SARS-CoV-2 up until 30 April 2021. Descriptive analyses of all studies were performed, and when more than 4 studies were available, a random-effects meta-analysis was used to estimate pooled sensitivity and specificity in comparison to reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing. We assessed heterogeneity by subgroup analyses, and rated study quality and risk of bias using the QUADAS-2 assessment tool. From a total of 14,254 articles, we included 133 analytical and clinical studies resulting in 214 clinical accuracy datasets with 112,323 samples. Across all meta-analyzed samples, the pooled Ag-RDT sensitivity and specificity were 71.2% (95% CI 68.2% to 74.0%) and 98.9% (95% CI 98.6% to 99.1%), respectively. Sensitivity increased to 76.3% (95% CI 73.1% to 79.2%) if analysis was restricted to studies that followed the Ag-RDT manufacturers’ instructions. LumiraDx showed the highest sensitivity, with 88.2% (95% CI 59.0% to 97.5%). Of instrument-free Ag-RDTs, Standard Q nasal performed best, with 80.2% sensitivity (95% CI 70.3% to 87.4%). Across all Ag-RDTs, sensitivity was markedly better on samples with lower RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) values, i.e., <20 (96.5%, 95% CI 92.6% to 98.4%) and <25 (95.8%, 95% CI 92.3% to 97.8%), in comparison to those with Ct ≥ 25 (50.7%, 95% CI 35.6% to 65.8%) and ≥30 (20.9%, 95% CI 12.5% to 32.8%). Testing in the first week from symptom onset resulted in substantially higher sensitivity (83.8%, 95% CI 76.3% to 89.2%) compared to testing after 1 week (61.5%, 95% CI 52.2% to 70.0%). The best Ag-RDT sensitivity was found with anterior nasal sampling (75.5%, 95% CI 70.4% to 79.9%), in comparison to other sample types (e.g., nasopharyngeal, 71.6%, 95% CI 68.1% to 74.9%), although CIs were overlapping. Concerns of bias were raised across all datasets, and financial support from the manufacturer was reported in 24.1% of datasets. Our analysis was limited by the included studies’ heterogeneity in design and reporting. Conclusions In this study we found that Ag-RDTs detect the vast majority of SARS-CoV-2-infected persons within the first week of symptom onset and those with high viral load. Thus, they can have high utility for diagnostic purposes in the early phase of disease, making them a valuable tool to fight the spread of SARS-CoV-2. Standardization in conduct and reporting of clinical accuracy studies would improve comparability and use of data.

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12 Citations


Open accessPosted ContentDOI: 10.1101/2021.05.20.21257393
Blandine Monel1, Delphine Planas1, Ludivine Grzelak1, Nikaïa Smith1  +23 moreInstitutions (2)
22 May 2021-medRxiv
Abstract: The mechanisms that allowed for the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 variant to rapidly outcompete pre-existing variants in many countries remain poorly characterized. Here, we analyzed viral release, anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies and cytokine production in a retrospective series of 427 RT-qPCR+ nasopharyngeal swabs collected in COVID-19 patients harbouring either non-B.1.1.7 or B.1.17 variants. We utilized a novel rapid assay, based on S-Fuse-T reporter cells, to quantify infectious SARS-CoV-2. With both non-B.1.1.7 and B.1.1.7 variants, viral titers were highly variable, ranging from 0 to >106 infectious units, and correlated with viral RNA levels. Lateral flow antigenic rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) were positive in 96% of the samples harbouring infectious virus. About 67 % of individuals carried detectable infectious virus within the first two days after onset of symptoms. This proportion decreased overtime, and viable virus was detected up to 14 days. Samples containing anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG or IgA did not generally harbour infectious virus. The proportion of individuals displaying viable virus or being RDT-positive was not higher with B.1.1.7 than with non-B.1.1.7 variants. Ct values were slightly but not significantly lower with B.1.1.7. The variant was characterized by a fast decrease of infectivity overtime and a marked release of 17 cytokines (including IFN-{beta}, IP-10, IL-10 and TRAIL). Our results highlight differences between non-B.1.1.7 and B.1.1.7 variants. B.1.1.7 is associated with modified viral decays and cytokine profiles at the nasopharyngeal mucosae during symptomatic infection.

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Topics: Virus (57%)

3 Citations


Open accessPosted ContentDOI: 10.1101/2021.03.06.21253048
08 Mar 2021-medRxiv
Abstract: Containing the global SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge due to high horizontal transmissivity and asymptomatic carriage rates. Lateral Flow Device (LFD) immunoassays were introduced in late 2020 to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic individuals rapidly. Whilst LFD technologies have been used for over 60 years, their widespread use as a public health tool during a pandemic is unprecedented. By the end of 2020, data from studies into the efficacy of the LFDs emerged and showed these point-of-care devices to have very high specificity (ability to identify true negatives) but inadequate sensitivity with high false-negative rates. The low sensitivity (<50%) shown in several studies is a critical public health concern, as asymptomatic or pre-symptomatic carriers may wrongly be assumed to be non-infectious, posing a significant risk of further spread in the community. Here we show that the direct visual readout of SARS-CoV-2 LFDs is an inadequate approach to discriminate a potentially infective viral concentration in a bio-sample. We quantified significant immobilized antigen-antibody-label conjugate complexes within the LFDs visually scored as negative using high-sensitivity synchrotron X-ray fluorescence imaging. Correlating quantitative X-ray fluorescence measurements and qRT-PCR determined numbers of viral copies, we identified that negatively scored samples could contain up to 100 PFU (equivalent here to [~]10,000 RNA copies/test). The study demonstrates where the shortcomings arise in many of the current direct-readout SARS-CoV-2 LFDs, namely being a deficiency in the readout as opposed to the potential level of detection of the test, which is orders of magnitude higher. The present findings are of importance, both to public health monitoring during the COVID-19 pandemic and to the rapid refinement of these tools for immediate and future applications.

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1 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1021/ACSAMI.1C04283
Abstract: Containing the global severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) pandemic has been an unprecedented challenge due to high horizontal transmissivity and asymptomatic carriage rates. Lateral flow device (LFD) immunoassays were introduced in late 2020 to detect SARS-CoV-2 infection in asymptomatic or presymptomatic individuals rapidly. While LFD technologies have been used for over 60 years, their widespread use as a public health tool during a pandemic is unprecedented. By the end of 2020, data from studies into the efficacy of the LFDs emerged and showed these point-of-care devices to have very high specificity (ability to identify true negatives) but inadequate sensitivity with high false-negative rates. The low sensitivity (<50%) shown in several studies is a critical public health concern, as asymptomatic or presymptomatic carriers may wrongly be assumed to be noninfectious, posing a significant risk of further spread in the community. Here, we show that the direct visual readout of SARS-CoV-2 LFDs is an inadequate approach to discriminate a potentially infective viral concentration in a biosample. We quantified significant immobilized antigen-antibody-labeled conjugate complexes within the LFDs visually scored as negative using high-sensitivity synchrotron X-ray fluorescence imaging. Correlating quantitative X-ray fluorescence measurements and quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) determined numbers of viral copies, we identified that negatively scored samples could contain up to 100 PFU (equivalent here to ∼10 000 RNA copies/test). The study demonstrates where the shortcomings arise in many of the current direct-readout SARS-CoV-2 LFDs, namely, being a deficiency in the readout as opposed to the potential level of detection of the test, which is orders of magnitude higher. The present findings are of importance both to public health monitoring during the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and to the rapid refinement of these tools for immediate and future applications.

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1 Citations


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26 results found


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/S41586-020-2196-X
Roman Wölfel1, Victor M. Corman2, Wolfgang Guggemos, M Seilmaier  +15 moreInstitutions (4)
01 Apr 2020-Nature
Abstract: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an acute infection of the respiratory tract that emerged in late 20191,2. Initial outbreaks in China involved 13.8% of cases with severe courses, and 6.1% of cases with critical courses3. This severe presentation may result from the virus using a virus receptor that is expressed predominantly in the lung2,4; the same receptor tropism is thought to have determined the pathogenicity—but also aided in the control—of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 20035. However, there are reports of cases of COVID-19 in which the patient shows mild upper respiratory tract symptoms, which suggests the potential for pre- or oligosymptomatic transmission6–8. There is an urgent need for information on virus replication, immunity and infectivity in specific sites of the body. Here we report a detailed virological analysis of nine cases of COVID-19 that provides proof of active virus replication in tissues of the upper respiratory tract. Pharyngeal virus shedding was very high during the first week of symptoms, with a peak at 7.11 × 108 RNA copies per throat swab on day 4. Infectious virus was readily isolated from samples derived from the throat or lung, but not from stool samples—in spite of high concentrations of virus RNA. Blood and urine samples never yielded virus. Active replication in the throat was confirmed by the presence of viral replicative RNA intermediates in the throat samples. We consistently detected sequence-distinct virus populations in throat and lung samples from one patient, proving independent replication. The shedding of viral RNA from sputum outlasted the end of symptoms. Seroconversion occurred after 7 days in 50% of patients (and by day 14 in all patients), but was not followed by a rapid decline in viral load. COVID-19 can present as a mild illness of the upper respiratory tract. The confirmation of active virus replication in the upper respiratory tract has implications for the containment of COVID-19. Detailed virological analysis of nine cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) provides proof of active replication of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in tissues of the upper respiratory tract.

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Topics: Virus receptor (62%), Coronavirus (60%), Viral shedding (59%) ... show more

4,325 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/S41591-020-0869-5
Xi He1, Eric H. Y. Lau2, Peng Wu2, Xilong Deng1  +19 moreInstitutions (2)
15 Apr 2020-Nature Medicine
Abstract: We report temporal patterns of viral shedding in 94 patients with laboratory-confirmed COVID-19 and modeled COVID-19 infectiousness profiles from a separate sample of 77 infector–infectee transmission pairs. We observed the highest viral load in throat swabs at the time of symptom onset, and inferred that infectiousness peaked on or before symptom onset. We estimated that 44% (95% confidence interval, 30–57%) of secondary cases were infected during the index cases’ presymptomatic stage, in settings with substantial household clustering, active case finding and quarantine outside the home. Disease control measures should be adjusted to account for probable substantial presymptomatic transmission. Presymptomatic transmission of SARS-CoV-2 is estimated to account for a substantial proportion of COVID-19 cases.

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Topics: Viral load (51%)

2,928 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.7326/M20-3012
Daniel P Oran1, Eric J. Topol1Institutions (1)
Abstract: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) has spread rapidly throughout the world since the first cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) were observed in December 2019 in Wuhan, China. It has been suspected that infected persons who remain asymptomatic play a significant role in the ongoing pandemic, but their relative number and effect have been uncertain. The authors sought to review and synthesize the available evidence on asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection. Asymptomatic persons seem to account for approximately 40% to 45% of SARS-CoV-2 infections, and they can transmit the virus to others for an extended period, perhaps longer than 14 days. Asymptomatic infection may be associated with subclinical lung abnormalities, as detected by computed tomography. Because of the high risk for silent spread by asymptomatic persons, it is imperative that testing programs include those without symptoms. To supplement conventional diagnostic testing, which is constrained by capacity, cost, and its one-off nature, innovative tactics for public health surveillance, such as crowdsourcing digital wearable data and monitoring sewage sludge, might be helpful.

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Topics: Asymptomatic (64%), Subclinical infection (61%)

1,325 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1093/CID/CIAA638
Jared Bullard1, Jared Bullard2, Kerry Dust2, Duane J. Funk1  +22 moreInstitutions (3)
Abstract: BACKGROUND: Reverse-transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) has become the primary method to diagnose viral diseases, including severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). RT-PCR detects RNA, not infectious virus; thus, its ability to determine duration of infectivity of patients is limited. Infectivity is a critical determinant in informing public health guidelines/interventions. Our goal was to determine the relationship between E gene SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR cycle threshold (Ct) values from respiratory samples, symptom onset to test (STT), and infectivity in cell culture. METHODS: In this retrospective cross-sectional study, we took SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR-confirmed positive samples and determined their ability to infect Vero cell lines. RESULTS: Ninety RT-PCR SARS-CoV-2-positive samples were incubated on Vero cells. Twenty-six samples (28.9%) demonstrated viral growth. Median tissue culture infectious dose/mL was 1780 (interquartile range, 282-8511). There was no growth in samples with a Ct > 24 or STT > 8 days. Multivariate logistic regression using positive viral culture as a binary predictor variable, STT, and Ct demonstrated an odds ratio (OR) for positive viral culture of 0.64 (95% confidence interval [CI], .49-.84; P   24. CONCLUSIONS: SARS-CoV-2 Vero cell infectivity was only observed for RT-PCR Ct   24 and duration of symptoms > 8 days may be low. This information can inform public health policy and guide clinical, infection control, and occupational health decisions. Further studies of larger size are needed.

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Topics: Viral culture (57%), Infectivity (55%), Infectious dose (52%) ... show more

694 Citations


Open accessJournal ArticleDOI: 10.1038/S41564-020-00813-8
Jeffrey Seow1, Carl Graham1, Blair Merrick2, Sam Acors1  +40 moreInstitutions (3)
Abstract: Antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2 can be detected in most infected individuals 10-15 d after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms. However, due to the recent emergence of SARS-CoV-2 in the human population, it is not known how long antibody responses will be maintained or whether they will provide protection from reinfection. Using sequential serum samples collected up to 94 d post onset of symptoms (POS) from 65 individuals with real-time quantitative PCR-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, we show seroconversion (immunoglobulin (Ig)M, IgA, IgG) in >95% of cases and neutralizing antibody responses when sampled beyond 8 d POS. We show that the kinetics of the neutralizing antibody response is typical of an acute viral infection, with declining neutralizing antibody titres observed after an initial peak, and that the magnitude of this peak is dependent on disease severity. Although some individuals with high peak infective dose (ID50 > 10,000) maintained neutralizing antibody titres >1,000 at >60 d POS, some with lower peak ID50 had neutralizing antibody titres approaching baseline within the follow-up period. A similar decline in neutralizing antibody titres was observed in a cohort of 31 seropositive healthcare workers. The present study has important implications when considering widespread serological testing and antibody protection against reinfection with SARS-CoV-2, and may suggest that vaccine boosters are required to provide long-lasting protection.

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Topics: Neutralizing antibody (66%), Seroconversion (60%), Population (51%) ... show more

628 Citations


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