Frequent screening of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) among asymptomatic populations using antigen-based point-of-care tests (APOCTs) is occurring globally with limited clinical performance data. The positive predictive value (PPV) of two APOCTs used in the asymptomatic screening of SARS-CoV-2 among health care workers (HCWs) at continuing care (CC) sites across AB, Canada, was evaluated. Between 22 February and 2 May 2021, CC sites implemented SARS-CoV-2 voluntary screening of their asymptomatic HCWs. On-site testing with Abbott Panbio or BD Veritor occurred on a weekly or twice-weekly basis. Positive APOCTs were confirmed with a real-time reverse transcriptase PCR (rRT-PCR) reference method. A total of 71,847 APOCTs (17,689 Veritor and 54,158 Panbio) were performed among 369 CC sites. Eighty-seven (0.12%) APOCTs were positive, of which 39 (0.05%) were confirmed as true positives using rRT-PCR. Use of the Veritor and Panbio resulted in 76.6% and 30.0% false-positive detection, respectively (P < 0.001). This corresponded to PPVs of 23.4 and 70.0% for the Veritor and Panbio, respectively. Frequent screening of SARS-CoV-2 among asymptomatic HCWs in CC, using APOCTs, resulted in a very low detection rate and a high rate of detection of false positives. Careful assessment of the risks versus benefits of APOCT programs and the prevalence of infection in this population needs to be thoroughly considered before implementation.
Keywords: SARS-CoV-2 antigen; point of care; positive predictive value; sensitivity.