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Microbiol Spectr ; 9(3): e0088421, 2021 12 22.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1532978


This study evaluates the performance of the PanBio COVID-19 antigen (Ag) test as part of a hospital infection control policy. Hospital staff was encouraged to get tested for COVID-19 when presenting with SARS-CoV-2-related symptoms. In a period of approximately 5 months, a steady decline in the performance of the Ag test was noted, epidemiologically coinciding with the rise of the SARS-CoV-2 B.1.1.7 (alpha) variant of concern (VOC) in the Netherlands. This led to the hypothesis that the diagnostic performance of the PanBio COVID-19 Ag test was influenced by the infecting viral variant. The results show a significantly lower sensitivity of the PanBio COVID-19 Ag test in persons infected with the B.1.1.7 (alpha) variant of SARS-CoV-2 in comparison with that in persons infected with non-B.1.1.7 variants, also after adjustment for viral load. IMPORTANCE Antigen tests for COVID-19 are widely used for rapid identification of COVID-19 cases, for example, for access to schools, festivals, and travel. There are several FDA- and CE-cleared tests on the market. Their performance has been evaluated mainly on the basis of infections by the classical variant of the causing virus, SARS-CoV-2. This paper provides evidence that the performance of one of the most widely used antigen tests detects significantly fewer cases of COVID-19 by the alpha variant than by the classical variants of SARS-CoV-2. This means that the role of antigen tests needs to be reevaluated in regions where other variants of SARS-CoV-2 predominate.

Antigens, Viral/immunology , COVID-19 Serological Testing/methods , COVID-19/diagnosis , COVID-19/immunology , SARS-CoV-2/classification , Antibodies, Viral/analysis , Diagnostic Tests, Routine , Humans , Netherlands , SARS-CoV-2/isolation & purification , Sensitivity and Specificity , Viral Load