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The influence of time on the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 serological testing

Torres Ortiz, Arturo; Fenn Torrente, Fernanda; Twigg, Adam; Hatcher, James; Saso, Anja; Lam, Tanya; Johnson, Marina; ... Grandjean, Louis; + view all (2022) The influence of time on the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 serological testing. Scientific Reports , 12 , Article 10517. 10.1038/s41598-022-14351-2. Green open access

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Abstract

Sensitive serological testing is essential to estimate the proportion of the population exposed or infected with SARS-CoV-2, to guide booster vaccination and to select patients for treatment with anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies. The performance of serological tests is usually evaluated at 14-21 days post infection. This approach fails to take account of the important effect of time on test performance after infection or exposure has occurred. We performed parallel serological testing using 4 widely used assays (a multiplexed SARS-CoV-2 Nucleoprotein (N), Spike (S) and Receptor Binding Domain assay from Meso Scale Discovery (MSD), the Roche Elecsys-Nucleoprotein (Roche-N) and Spike (Roche-S) assays and the Abbott Nucleoprotein assay (Abbott-N) on serial positive monthly samples collected as part of the Co-STARs study ( www.clinicaltrials.gov , NCT04380896) up to 200 days following infection. Our findings demonstrate the considerable effect of time since symptom onset on the diagnostic sensitivity of different assays. Using a time-to-event analysis, we demonstrated that 50% of the Abbott nucleoprotein assays will give a negative result after 175 days (median survival time 95% CI 168-185 days), compared to the better performance over time of the Roche Elecsys nucleoprotein assay (93% survival probability at 200 days, 95% CI 88-97%). Assays targeting the spike protein showed a lower decline over the follow-up period, both for the MSD spike assay (97% survival probability at 200 days, 95% CI 95-99%) and the Roche Elecsys spike assay (95% survival probability at 200 days, 95% CI 93-97%). The best performing quantitative Roche Elecsys Spike assay showed no evidence of waning Spike antibody titers over the 200-day time course of the study. We have shown that compared to other assays evaluated, the Abbott-N assay fails to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies as time passes since infection. In contrast the Roche Elecsys Spike Assay and the MSD assay maintained a high sensitivity for the 200-day duration of the study. These limitations of the Abbott assay should be considered when quantifying the immune correlates of protection or the need for SARS-CoV-2 antibody therapy. The high levels of maintained detectable neutralizing spike antibody titers identified by the quantitative Roche Elecsys assay is encouraging and provides further evidence in support of long-lasting SARS-CoV-2 protection following natural infection.

Type: Article
Title: The influence of time on the sensitivity of SARS-CoV-2 serological testing
Location: England
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.1038/s41598-022-14351-2
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.1038/s41598-022-14351-2
Language: English
Additional information: © The Author(s) 2022. This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, which permits use, sharing, adaptation, distribution and reproduction in any medium or format, as long as you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons licence, and indicate if changes were made. Te images or other third party material in this article are included in the article’s Creative Commons licence, unless indicated otherwise in a credit line to the material. If material is not included in the article’s Creative Commons licence and your intended use is not permitted by statutory regulation or exceeds the permitted use, you will need to obtain permission directly from the copyright holder. To view a copy of this licence, visit http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.
Keywords: Antibodies, Viral, COVID-19, Humans, Nucleoproteins, SARS-CoV-2, Sensitivity and Specificity
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health > Infection, Immunity and Inflammation Dept
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > UCL GOS Institute of Child Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10151046
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