Comparative Performance of Five Commercially Available Serologic Assays To Detect Antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and Identify Individuals with High Neutralizing Titers

J Clin Microbiol. 2021 Jan 21;59(2):e02257-20. doi: 10.1128/JCM.02257-20. Print 2021 Jan 21.


Accurate serological assays to detect antibodies to severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) are needed to characterize the epidemiology of SARS-CoV-2 infection and identify potential candidates for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) convalescent plasma (CCP) donation. This study compared the performances of commercial enzyme immunoassays (EIAs) with respect to detection of IgG or total antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 and neutralizing antibodies (nAbs). The diagnostic accuracy of five commercially available EIAs (Abbott, Euroimmun, EDI, ImmunoDiagnostics, and Roche) for detection of IgG or total antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 was evaluated using cross-sectional samples from potential CCP donors who had prior molecular confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 infection (n = 214) and samples from prepandemic emergency department patients without SARS-CoV-2 infection (n = 1,099). Of the 214 potential CCP donors, all were sampled >14 days since symptom onset and only a minority (n = 16 [7.5%]) had been hospitalized due to COVID-19; 140 potential CCP donors were tested by all five EIAs and a microneutralization assay. Performed according to the protocols of the manufacturers to detect IgG or total antibodies to SARS-CoV-2, the sensitivity of each EIA ranged from 76.4% to 93.9%, and the specificity of each EIA ranged from 87.0% to 99.6%. Using a nAb titer cutoff value of ≥160 as the reference representing a positive test result (n = 140 CCP donors), the empirical area under the receiver operating curve for each EIA ranged from 0.66 (Roche) to 0.90 (Euroimmun). Commercial EIAs with high diagnostic accuracy to detect SARS-CoV-2 antibodies did not necessarily have high diagnostic accuracy to detect high nAb titers. Some but not all commercial EIAs may be useful in the identification of individuals with high nAb titers among convalescent individuals.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; convalescent plasma; neutralizing titers; serologic assays.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / blood*
  • Antibodies, Viral / blood*
  • COVID-19 / blood
  • COVID-19 / diagnosis*
  • COVID-19 Serological Testing / methods*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Humans
  • Immune Sera / immunology
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Immunoglobulin G / blood
  • Neutralization Tests
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / isolation & purification*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immune Sera
  • Immunoglobulin G