A Qualitative Comparison of the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG II Quant Assay against Commonly Used Canadian SARS-CoV-2 Enzyme Immunoassays in Blood Donor Retention Specimens, April 2020 to March 2021

Microbiol Spectr. 2022 Jun 29;10(3):e0113422. doi: 10.1128/spectrum.01134-22. Epub 2022 Jun 2.


Our group has previously used laboratory and commercially developed assays to understand the IgG responses to SARS-CoV-2 antigens, including nucleocapsid (N), spike (S), and receptor binding domain (RBD), in Canadian blood donors. In this current study, we analyzed 17,428 available and previously characterized retention samples collected from April 2020 to March 2021. The analysis compared the characteristics of the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG II Quant assay (Abbott anti-spike [S], Abbott, Chicago, IL) against four other IgG assays. The Abbott anti-S assay has a qualitative threshold of 50 AU/mL. The four comparator assays were the Abbott anti-nucleocapsid (N) assay and three commonly used Canadian in-house IgG enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) recognizing distinct recombinant viral antigens, full-length spike glycoprotein, glycoprotein RBD, and nucleocapsid. The strongest qualitative relationship was between Sinai RBD and the Abbott anti-S assay (kappa, 0.707; standard error [SE] of kappa, 0.018; 95% confidence interval, 0.671 to 0.743). We then scored each previously characterized specimen as positive when two anti-SARS-COV-2 assays identified anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG in the specimen. Using this composite reference standard approach, the sensitivity of the Abbott anti-S assay was 95.96% (95% confidence interval [CI], 93.27 to 97.63%). The specificity of the Abbott anti-S assay was 99.35% (95% CI, 99.21 to 99.46%). Our study provides context on the use of commonly used SARS-CoV-2 serologies in Canada and identifies how these assays qualitatively compare to newer commercial assays. Our next steps are to assess how well the Abbott anti-S assays quantitatively detect wild-type and SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. IMPORTANCE We describe the qualitative test characteristics of the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG II Quant assay against four other anti-SARS-CoV-2 IgG assays commonly used in Canada. Although there is no gold standard for identifying anti-SARS-CoV-2 seropositivity, aggregate standards can be used to assess seropositivity. In this study, we used a specimen bank of previously well-characterized specimens collected between April 2020 and March 2021. The Abbott anti-S assay showed the strongest qualitative relationship with a widely used laboratory-developed IgG assay for the SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain. Using the composite reference standard approach, we also showed that the Abbott anti-S assay was highly sensitive and specific. As new anti-SARS-CoV-2 assays are developed, it is important to compare their test characteristics against other assays that have been extensively used in prior research.

Keywords: IgG; SARS-CoV-2 antibody; methods comparisons; nucleocapsid; receptor binding domain; spike.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Blood Donors
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • Canada
  • Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay
  • Humans
  • Immunoglobulin G
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Antibodies, Viral
  • Immunoglobulin G

Supplementary concepts

  • SARS-CoV-2 variants