Accuracy and ease-of-use of seven point-of-care SARS-CoV-2 antigen-detecting tests: A multi-centre clinical evaluation

EBioMedicine. 2022 Jan:75:103774. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2021.103774. Epub 2021 Dec 24.


Background: Antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) for SARS-CoV-2 are important diagnostic tools. We assessed clinical performance and ease-of-use of seven Ag-RDTs in a prospective, manufacturer-independent, multi-centre cross-sectional diagnostic accuracy study to inform global decision makers.

Methods: Unvaccinated participants suspected of a first SARS-CoV-2 infection were recruited at six sites (Germany, Brazil). Ag-RDTs were evaluated sequentially, with collection of paired swabs for routine reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) testing and Ag-RDT testing. Performance was compared to RT-PCR overall and in sub-group analyses (viral load, symptoms, symptoms duration). To understandusability a System Usability Scale (SUS) questionnaire and ease-of-use (EoU) assessment were performed.

Findings: 7471 participants were included in the analysis. Sensitivities across Ag-RDTs ranged from 70·4%-90·1%, specificities were above 97·2% for all Ag-RDTs but one (93·1%).Ag-RDTs, Mologic, Bionote, Standard Q, showed diagnostic accuracy in line with WHO targets (> 80% sensitivity, > 97% specificity). All tests showed high sensitivity in the first three days after symptom onset (≥87·1%) and in individuals with viral loads≥ 6 log10SARS-CoV2 RNA copies/mL (≥ 88·7%). Usability varied, with Rapigen, Bionote and Standard Q reaching very good scores; 90, 88 and 84/100, respectively.

Interpretation: Variability in test performance is partially explained by variable viral loads in population evaluated over the course of the pandemic. All Ag-RDTs reach high sensitivity early in the disease and in individuals with high viral loads, supporting their role in identifying transmission relevant infections. For easy-to-use tests, performance shown will likely be maintained in routine implementation.

Funding: Ministry of Science, Research and Arts, State of Baden-Wuerttemberg, Germany, internal funds from Heidelberg University Hospital, University Hospital Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, UK Department of International Development, WHO, Unitaid.

Keywords: Antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests; COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; Sensitivity; Specificity.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antigens, Viral / immunology*
  • COVID-19 Serological Testing*
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • COVID-19* / immunology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Point-of-Care Systems*
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antigens, Viral