Multicenter evaluation of the Panbio™ COVID-19 rapid antigen-detection test for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection

Clin Microbiol Infect. 2021 Feb 16;27(5):758-761. doi: 10.1016/j.cmi.2021.02.001. Online ahead of print.


Objectives: The standard RT-PCR assay for coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is laborious and time-consuming, limiting testing availability. Rapid antigen-detection tests are faster and less expensive; however, the reliability of these tests must be validated before they can be used widely. The objective of this study was to determine the performance of the Panbio™ COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device (PanbioRT) (Abbott) in detecting severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in nasopharyngeal swab specimens.

Methods: This prospective multicentre study was carried out in ten Spanish university hospitals and included individuals with clinical symptoms or epidemiological criteria of COVID-19. Only individuals with ≤7 days from the onset of symptoms or from exposure to a confirmed case of COVID-19 were included. Two nasopharyngeal samples were taken to perform the PanbioRT as a point-of-care test and a diagnostic RT-PCR test.

Results: Among the 958 patients studied, 325 (90.5%) had true-positive results. The overall sensitivity and specificity for the PanbioRT were 90.5% (95%CI 87.5-93.6) and 98.8% (95%CI 98-99.7), respectively. Sensitivity in participants who had a threshold cycle (CT) < 25 for the RT-PCR test was 99.5% (95%CI 98.4-100), and in participants with ≤5 days of the clinical course it was 91.8% (95%CI 88.8-94.8). Agreement between techniques was 95.7% (κ score 0.90; 95%CI 0.88-0.93).

Conclusions: The PanbioRT performs well clinically, with even more reliable results for patients with a shorter clinical course of the disease or a higher viral load. The results must be interpreted based on the local epidemiological context.

Keywords: Antigen diagnosis; COVID-19; Control of cases; Multicentre evaluation; Pandemic; Quick diagnosis; SARS-CoV2.