Objective: The COVID-19 pandemic poses an immense need for accurate, sensitive and high-throughput clinical tests, and serological assays are needed for both overarching epidemiological studies and evaluating vaccines. Here, we present the development and validation of a high-throughput multiplex bead-based serological assay.
Methods: More than 100 representations of SARS-CoV-2 proteins were included for initial evaluation, including antigens produced in bacterial and mammalian hosts as well as synthetic peptides. The five best-performing antigens, three representing the spike glycoprotein and two representing the nucleocapsid protein, were further evaluated for detection of IgG antibodies in samples from 331 COVID-19 patients and convalescents, and in 2090 negative controls sampled before 2020.
Results: Three antigens were finally selected, represented by a soluble trimeric form and the S1-domain of the spike glycoprotein as well as by the C-terminal domain of the nucleocapsid. The sensitivity for these three antigens individually was found to be 99.7%, 99.1% and 99.7%, and the specificity was found to be 98.1%, 98.7% and 95.7%. The best assay performance was although achieved when utilising two antigens in combination, enabling a sensitivity of up to 99.7% combined with a specificity of 100%. Requiring any two of the three antigens resulted in a sensitivity of 99.7% and a specificity of 99.4%.
Conclusion: These observations demonstrate that a serological test based on a combination of several SARS-CoV-2 antigens enables a highly specific and sensitive multiplex serological COVID-19 assay.
Keywords: COVID‐19; IgG; SARS‐CoV‐2; multiplex; serological assay.
© 2021 The Authors. Clinical & Translational Immunology published by John Wiley & Sons Australia, Ltd on behalf of Australian and New Zealand Society for Immunology, Inc.