Performance of SARS-CoV-2 Antigens in a Multiplex Bead Assay for Integrated Serological Surveillance of Neglected Tropical and Other Diseases

Am J Trop Med Hyg. 2022 Jun 27;107(2):260-267. doi: 10.4269/ajtmh.22-0078. Online ahead of print.


Serosurveillance can provide estimates of population-level exposure to infectious pathogens and has been used extensively during the COVID-19 pandemic. Simultaneous, serological testing for multiple pathogens can be done using bead-based immunoassays to add value to disease-specific serosurveys. We conducted a validation of four SARS-CoV-2 antigens-full-length spike protein, two receptor binding domain proteins, and the nucleocapsid protein-on our existing multiplex bead assay (MBA) for enteric diseases, malaria, and vaccine preventable diseases. After determining the optimal conditions for coupling the antigens to microsphere beads, the sensitivity and specificity of the assay were determined on two instruments (Luminex-200 and MAGPIX) when testing singly (monoplex) versus combined (multiplex). Sensitivity was assessed using plasma from 87 real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) positive persons collected in March-May of 2020 and ranged from 94.3% to 96.6% for the different testing conditions. Specificity was assessed using 98 plasma specimens collected prior to December 2019 and plasma from 19 rRT-PCR negative persons and ranged from 97.4% to 100%. The positive percent agreement was 93.8% to 97.9% using 48 specimens collected > 21 days post-symptom onset, while the negative percent agreement was ≥ 99% for all antigens. Test performance was similar using monoplex or multiplex testing. Integrating SARS-CoV-2 serology with other diseases of public health interest could add significant value to public health programs that have suffered severe programmatic setbacks during the COVID-19 pandemic.