Think of the Children: Evaluation of SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test in Pediatric Population

Pediatr Infect Dis J. 2021 May 1;40(5):385-388. doi: 10.1097/INF.0000000000003101.


Background: Real-time reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) is the reference laboratory method to diagnose SARS-CoV-2 infection then requires equipment and is time-consuming. There is a crucial demand for rapid techniques such as antigen detection test. Considering the different diagnostic accuracy of tests with other respiratory viruses in adults and children, SARS-CoV-2 antigen test must be evaluated specifically in children.

Methods: The purpose of this study was to evaluate the performance of Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device (Abbott) as a point-of-care test for diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 in comparison to RT-qPCR in a pediatric population.

Results: Four hundred forty nasopharyngeal swabs were tested. Amongst the 18 positive RT-qPCR samples, 14 were detected by the rapid antigen test, given an overall sensitivity of 77.7%. All the samples detected positive with the antigen rapid test were also positive with RT-qPCR.

Conclusion: The sensitivity of Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device is lower in children than in adults. Nevertheless, considering the good values of specificity, negative and positive predictive values this test could be used as a frontline test to obtain quick results, although the negative values with COVID-19 high clinical suspicion should be confirmed using RT-qPCR.