Four point-of-care lateral flow immunoassays for diagnosis of COVID-19 and for assessing dynamics of antibody responses to SARS-CoV-2

J Infect. 2020 Jun 15;S0163-4453(20)30404-7. doi: 10.1016/j.jinf.2020.06.023. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: We aimed to evaluate the role of rapid serological tests in the management of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients.

Methods: This retrospective study enrolled 16 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction-confirmed symptomatic patients with COVID-19 and 58 COVID-19 negative patients at a medical center in Taiwan over a 3-month period. Serial serum samples were collected and tested for antibody response using four point-of-care (POC) lateral flow immunoassays (LFIA) (ALLTEST 2019-nCoV IgG/IgM Rapid Test, Dynamiker 2019-nCoV IgG/IgM Rapid Test, ASK COVID-19 IgG/IgM Rapid Test, and Wondfo SARS-CoV-2 Antibody Test). Time-dependent detection sensitivity and timeliness of seroconversion were determined and compared between the four POC rapid tests.

Results: The overall sensitivity and specificity of the four tests for detecting anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies after 3 weeks of symptom onset were 100% and 100%, respectively. There was no significant difference between the rapid tests used for detection of IgM and IgG separately and those used for detection of combined total antibody (mainly IgM/IgG). There was no significant difference between the four POC rapid tests in terms of time required for determining seroconversion of COVID-19. Patients with COVID-19 with pneumonia demonstrated shorter seroconversion time than those without pneumonia.

Conclusion: Though the POC antibody rapid tests based on LFIA showed reliable performance in the detection of SARS-CoV-2-specific antibodies, the results of these tests should be interpreted and applied appropriately in the context of antibody dynamic of COVID-19 infection. COVID-19 patients complicated with pneumonia exhibited earlier anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody response than COVID-19 patients without pneumonia.

Keywords: Antibody response; COVID-19 pandemic; Immunochromatographic assay; Lateral flow method; Rapid test.