Serology detection is recognized for its sensitivity in convalescent patients with COVID-19, in comparison with nucleic acid amplification tests (NAATs). This article aimed to evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of serologic methods for COVID-19 based on assay design and post-symptom-onset intervals. Two authors independently searched PubMed, Cochrane library, Ovid, EBSCO for case-control, longitudinal and cohort studies that determined the diagnostic accuracy of serology tests in comparison with NAATs in COVID-19 cases and used QUADAS-2 for quality assessment. Pooled accuracy was analysed using INLA method. A total of 27 studies were included in this meta-analysis, with 4 cohort, 16 case-control and 7 longitudinal studies and 4565 participants. Serology tests had the lowest sensitivity at 0-7 days after symptom onset and the highest at >14 days. TAB had a better sensitivity than IgG or IgM only. Using combined nucleocapsid (N) and spike(S) protein had a better sensitivity compared to N or S protein only. Lateral flow immunoassay (LFIA) had a lower sensitivity than enzyme-linked immunoassay (ELISA) and chemiluminescent immunoassay (CLIA). Serology tests will play an important role in the clinical diagnosis for later stage COVID-19 patients. ELISA tests, detecting TAB or targeting combined N and S proteins had a higher diagnostic sensitivity compared to other methods.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; immunoassays; metanalysis; serology.