Validation of a commercially available SARS-CoV-2 serological immunoassay

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2020 Jun 27;S1198-743X(20)30368-2. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2020.06.024. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: To validate the diagnostic accuracy of a Euroimmun SARS-CoV-2 IgG and IgA immunoassay for COVID-19.

Methods: In this unmatched (1:2) case-control validation study, we used sera of 181 laboratory-confirmed SARS-CoV-2 cases and 326 controls collected before SARS-CoV-2 emergence. Diagnostic accuracy of the immunoassay was assessed against a whole spike protein-based recombinant immunofluorescence assay (rIFA) by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses. Discrepant cases between ELISA and rIFA were further tested by pseudo-neutralization assay.

Results: COVID-19 patients were more likely to be male and older than controls, and 50.3% were hospitalized. ROC curve analyses indicated that IgG and IgA had high diagnostic accuracies with AUCs of 0.990 (95% Confidence Interval [95%CI]: 0.983-0.996) and 0.978 (95%CI: 0.967-0.989), respectively. IgG assays outperformed IgA assays (p=0.01). Taking an assessed 15% inter-assay imprecision into account, an optimized IgG ratio cut-off > 2.5 displayed a 100% specificity (95%CI: 99-100) and a 100% positive predictive value (95%CI: 96-100). A 0.8 cut-off displayed a 94% sensitivity (95%CI: 88-97) and a 97% negative predictive value (95%CI: 95-99). Substituting the upper threshold for the manufacturer's, improved assay performance, leaving 8.9% of IgG ratios indeterminate between 0.8-2.5.

Conclusions: The Euroimmun assay displays a nearly optimal diagnostic accuracy using IgG against SARS-CoV-2 in patient samples, with no obvious gains from IgA serology. The optimized cut-offs are fit for rule-in and rule-out purposes, allowing determination of whether individuals in our study population have been exposed to SARS-CoV-2 or not. IgG serology should however not be considered as a surrogate of protection at this stage.

Keywords: COVID-19; ELISA; Pseudovirus neutralisation assay; SARS-CoV-2; Serological Assays; Serological testingstrategy; recombinant immunofluorescence assay.