Evaluation of rapid antigen test for detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus

J Clin Virol. 2020 Aug;129:104500. doi: 10.1016/j.jcv.2020.104500. Epub 2020 Jun 8.


Background: The rapid diagnosis of Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients is essential to reduce the disease spread. Rapid antigen detection (RAD) tests are available, however, there is scanty data on the performance of RAD tests.

Objective: To evaluate the performance of the commercially available BIOCREDIT COVID-19 Ag test and compare it with RT-PCR for detecting Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) virus. Analytical sensitivity for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus was determined for the RAD test using viral culture and RT-PCR as reference methods. The RAD test was further evaluated using respiratory samples collected from confirmed COVID-19 patients. The results were compared with RT-PCR test.

Results: The detection limits between RAD test, viral culture and RT-PCR varied hugely. RAD was 103 fold less sensitive than viral culture while RAD was 105 fold less sensitive than RT-PCR. The RAD test detected between 11.1 % and 45.7 % of RT-PCR-positive samples from COVID-19 patients.

Conclusions: This study demonstrated that the RAD test serves only as adjunct to RT-PCR test because of potential for false-negative results.

Keywords: 2019 novel coronavirus; COVID-19; RT-PCR; Rapid antigen detection; SARS-CoV-2; Viral culture.

Publication types

  • Evaluation Study

MeSH terms

  • Antigens, Viral / analysis*
  • Betacoronavirus / immunology*
  • COVID-19
  • COVID-19 Testing
  • Clinical Laboratory Techniques / methods*
  • Coronavirus Infections / diagnosis*
  • Humans
  • Immunoassay / methods*
  • Pandemics
  • Pneumonia, Viral / diagnosis*
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antigens, Viral