Clinical usefulness of fully automated chemiluminescent immunoassay for quantitative antibody measurements in COVID-19 patients

J Med Virol. 2020 Aug 14;10.1002/jmv.26430. doi: 10.1002/jmv.26430. Online ahead of print.


Since December 2019, we have been in the battlefield with a new threat to the humanity, known as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), which causes coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), characterized by viral pneumonia. It may be asymptomatic or cause various symptoms, ranging from flu-like symptoms to acute respiratory distress syndrome and eventually death. At present, the only reliable test for COVID-19 diagnosis is quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction. Assessing the immune response against SARS-CoV-2 could increase the detection sensitivity of infected population. Hereby, we report the performances of a fully automated chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA) on 276 serum samples. One hundred samples obtained from COVID-19 negative subjects (COVID-19 free) were analyzed to evaluate the diagnostic specificity of antibody (Ab) detection. Thereafter, 176 samples obtained from 125 patients with confirmed COVID-19 (COVID-19 patients) were selected to assess the diagnostic sensitivity of the CLIA. All samples were analyzed on MAGLUMI 800 platform. All COVID-19 free samples had Ab levels below the cutoff values. Hence, the diagnostic specificity was estimated at 100% (95% confidence interval [CI] = 96.3-100.0; positive predictive value = 100%). By the 18th day from the onset of symptoms, we reached an optimal diagnostic sensitivity (more than 95.0%) In fact, the diagnostic sensitivity increased over time and between 15 and 25 days after symptoms onset, reached 95.5% (95% CI = 84.9-99.2). The new automated CLIA analyzer appeared to be a robust and reliable method to measure specific Ab against COVID-19 at high throughput. Our data suggest that combining Ab and nucleic acid detection could increase diagnostic sensitivity.

Keywords: COVID-19; Euroimmun; MAGLUMI; SARS-CoV-2; immunoassay; serology.