Combination of serological total antibody and RT-PCR test for detection of SARS-COV-2 infections

J Virol Methods. 2020 Sep;283:113919. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2020.113919. Epub 2020 Jun 15.


The purpose of this study was to investigate the feasibility of serological total antibody tests combined with RT-PCR for detection of SARS-COV-2. We conducted a retrospective study in which 375 patients were enrolled during the outbreak of SARS-COV-2 from 25th January to 16th March 2020. Patients were divided into a COVID-19 group (n = 141) and a control group (n = 234). Serum samples and throat swabs were collected from 375 patients for total antibody testing against SARS-COV-2 and RT-PCR analysis, respectively. The results indicated that diagnostic sensitivity and specificity were 95.7 % and 98.7 %, 92.2 % and 100 % by total antibody tests and RT-PCR, respectively. The sensitivity and specificity of total antibody tests combined with RT-PCR were 98.6 % and 98.7 %. The sensitivity of the combined method was significantly higher than RT-PCR (X2 = 5.16, P < 0.05), and similar to that of total antibody tests (X2 = 1.15, P> 0.05). This study supported the advantage of the combined method for detection of SARS-COV-2 with a high degree of sensitivity and specificity, as a useful tool for accurate diagnosis and timely treatment of suspected patients, epidemiological investigation, as well as monitoring ongoing outbreaks of infections with SARS-COV-2.

Keywords: COVID-19; Chemiluminescence microparticle immunoassay; Real -Time RT-PCR; SARS-COV-2; Serology.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • China
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Coronavirus Infections / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods
  • Luminescent Measurements / methods
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • Pneumonia, Viral / immunology
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction / methods*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Serologic Tests / methods*
  • Young Adult


  • Antibodies, Viral

Supplementary concepts

  • COVID-19
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2