Background: Rapid antigen tests detecting SARS-CoV-2 were shown to be a useful tool in managing the COVID-19 pandemic. Here, we report on the results of a prospective diagnostic accuracy study of four SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen tests in a South African setting.
Methods: Rapid antigen test evaluations were performed through drive-through testing centres in Durban, South Africa, from July to December 2021. Two evaluation studies were performed: nasal Panbio COVID-19 Ag Rapid Test Device (Abbott) was evaluated in parallel with the nasopharyngeal Espline SARS-CoV-2 Ag test (Fujirebio), followed by the evaluation of nasal RightSign COVID-19 Antigen Rapid test Cassette (Hangzhou Biotest Biotech) in parallel with the nasopharyngeal STANDARD Q COVID-19 Ag test (SD Biosensor). The Abbott RealTime SARS-CoV-2 assay was used as a reference test.
Results: Evaluation of Panbio and Espline Ag tests was performed on 494 samples (31% positivity), while the evaluation of Standard Q and RightTest Ag tests was performed on 539 samples (13.17% positivity). The overall sensitivity for all four tests ranged between 60 and 72% with excellent specificity values (> 98%). Sensitivity increased to > 80% in all tests in samples with cycle number value < 20. All four tests performed best in samples from patients presenting within the first week of symptom onset.
Conclusions: All four evaluated tests detected a majority of the cases within the first week of symptom onset with high viral load.
Keywords: Antigen rapid diagnostic test; COVID-19; Performance evaluation; SARS-CoV-2.
© 2023. The Author(s).