Comparison of extraction-based and elution-based polymerase chain reaction testing, and automated and rapid antigen testing for the diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

J Med Virol. 2022 Jul;94(7):3155-3159. doi: 10.1002/jmv.27709. Epub 2022 Mar 22.


We aimed to compare the differences in testing performance of extraction-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays, elution-based direct PCR assay, and rapid antigen detection tests for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). We used nasopharyngeal swab samples of patients with coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). We used the MagNA Pure 24 System (Roche Diagnostics K.K.) or magLEAD 12gC (Precision System Science Co., Ltd.) for RNA extraction, mixed the concentrates with either the LightMix Modular SARS-CoV PCR mixture (Roche Diagnostics K.K.) or Takara SARS-CoV-2 direct PCR detection kit (Takara Bio Inc.), and amplified it using COBAS® z480 (Roche Diagnostics K.K.). For elution-based PCR, we directly applied clinical samples to the Takara SARS-CoV-2 direct PCR detection kit before the same amplification step. Additionally, we performed Espline SARS-CoV-2 (Fuji Rebio Co., Ltd.) for rapid diagnostic test (RDT), and used Lumipulse SARS-CoV-2 antigen (Fuji Rebio Co., Ltd.) and Elecsys SARS-CoV-2 antigen (Roche Diagnostics K.K.) for automated antigen tests (ATs). Extraction-based and elution-based PCR tests detected the virus up to 214-216 and 210 times dilution, respectively. ATs remained positive up to 24-26 times dilution, while RDT became negative after 22 dilutions. For 153 positive samples, positivity rates of the extraction-based PCR assay were 85.6% to 98.0%, while that of the elution-based PCR assay was 73.2%. Based on the RNA concentration process, extraction-based PCR assays were superior to elution-based direct PCR assays for detecting SARS-CoV-2.

Keywords: novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19); polymerase chain reaction; rapid diagnostic test; severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • RNA
  • SARS-CoV-2* / genetics
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • RNA