In addition to human cases, cases of COVID-19 in captive animals and pets are increasingly reported. This raises the concern for two-way COVID-19 transmission between humans and animals. Here, we developed a SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein-based competitive enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (cELISA) for serodiagnosis of COVID-19 which can theoretically be used in virtually all kinds of animals. We used 187 serum samples from patients with/without COVID-19, laboratory animals immunized with inactive SARS-CoV-2 virions, COVID-19-negative animals, and animals seropositive to other betacoronaviruses. A cut-off percent inhibition value of 22.345% was determined and the analytical sensitivity and specificity were found to be 1:64-1:256 and 93.9%, respectively. Evaluation on its diagnostic performance using 155 serum samples from COVID-19-negative animals and COVID-19 human patients showed a diagnostic sensitivity and specificity of 80.8% and 100%, respectively. The cELISA can be incorporated into routine blood testing of farmed/captive animals for COVID-19 surveillance.
Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; antibody; competitive ELISA; nucleocapsid protein.