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1.
Microbiol Spectr ; : e0115722, 2022 Jul 12.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1950017

ABSTRACT

Large-scale head-to-head assessment of the performance of lateral-flow tests (LFTs) for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) antigen is required in the context of the continuous emergence of new viral variants. The aim of this study was to evaluate the performance of 22 rapid LFTs for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 antigens. The clinical performance of 22 LFTs was evaluated in 1,157 samples collected in the Greater Paris area. The 8 best-performing LFTs were further assessed for their ability to detect 4 variants of concern (VOC), including the alpha, beta, delta, and omicron (BA.1) variants. The specificity of SARS-CoV-2 LFTs was generally high (100% for 15 of them) but was insufficient (<75%) for 3 tests. Sensitivity of the LFTs varied from 30.0% to 79.7% compared to nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT). Using a cycle threshold (CT) cutoff of ≤25, sensitivity of the assays ranged from 59.7% to 100%. The 8 best-performing assays had a sensitivity of ≥80% for the detection of the 4 VOC when the CT was ≤25. Falsely negative SARS-CoV-2 antigen LFT results were observed with omicron, due to the occurrence of low viral loads (CT > 30 in 32% of samples) during the two first days following symptom onset. Several LFTs exhibited satisfactory sensitivity and specificity, whereas a few others yielded an unacceptable proportion of false-positive results and/or lacked sensitivity. The sensitivity of the best-performing assays was not influenced by VOC, including alpha, beta, delta, and omicron variants. The ability of LFTs to detect the omicron variant could be reduced during the first days following symptom onset due to lower viral loads than with other variants. IMPORTANCE The use of lateral-flow tests (LFTs) to detect SARS-CoV-2 has expanded worldwide. LFTs detect SARS-CoV-2 viral antigen and are less sensitive than nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT). Their performance must be evaluated independently of the manufacturers. Our study assessed the performance of 22 SARS-CoV-2 antigen LFTs in large panels of well-characterized samples. The majority of LFTs tested exhibited satisfactory sensitivity and specificity, while some assays yielded unacceptable proportions of false-positive results, and others lacked sensitivity for samples containing large amounts of virus. The sensitivity of the best-performing assays did not vary according to the VOC, including the alpha, beta, delta, and omicron variants.

2.
EClinicalMedicine ; 50: 101519, 2022 Aug.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1914315

ABSTRACT

Background: Covid-19 test-to-release from quarantine policies affect many lives. The SMART Release pilot was the foundation of these policies and an element of the world's largest population cohort study of community-wide, SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen testing. The objective of the study was to evaluate daily lateral flow testing (LFT) as an alternative to 10-14 days quarantine for key worker contacts of known Covid-19 (or SARS-CoV-2 infection) cases. Methods: Prospective cohort study incorporating quantitative and qualitative research methods to consider how serial LFT compares with PCR testing to detect SARS-CoV-2 infections and to understand experiences/compliance with testing and the viability of this quarantine harm-reduction strategy. Participants were residents of the Liverpool area who were key workers at participating fire, police, NHS and local government organisations in Liverpool, and who were identified as close contacts of cases between December 2020 and August 2021. Thematic qualitative analysis was used to evaluate stakeholder meetings. Findings: Compliance with the daily testing regime was good across the three main organisations in this study with 96·9%, 93·7% and 92·8% compliance for Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire & Rescue Service and Alder Hey Children's Hospital respectively. Out of 1657 participants, 34 positive Covid-19 cases were identified and 3 undetected by the daily LFT regime. A total of 8291 workdays would have been lost to self-isolation but were prevented due to negative daily tests. Organisations reported that daily contact testing proved useful, flexible and well-tolerated initiative to sustain key worker services. Interpretation: Compliance with daily testing among key workers was high, helping sustain service continuity during periods of very high risk of staffing shortage. Services reported that the pilot was a "lifeline" and its successful delivery in Liverpool has been replicated elsewhere. Funding: This report is independent research commissioned by DHSC and part funded by DHSC and NIHR. Further funding was received from Liverpool City Council, the EPSRC and MRC.

3.
Front Bioeng Biotechnol ; 10: 884271, 2022.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1902917

ABSTRACT

Urine is an attractive biospecimen for in vitro diagnostics, and urine-based lateral flow assays are low-cost devices suitable for point-of-care testing, particularly in low-resource settings. However, some of the lateral flow assays exhibit limited diagnostic utility because the urinary biomarker concentration is significantly lower than the assay detection limit, which compromises the sensitivity. To address the challenge, we developed an osmotic processor that statically and spontaneously concentrated biomarkers. The specimen in the device interfaces with the aqueous polymer solution via a dialysis membrane. The polymer solution induces an osmotic pressure difference that extracts water from the specimen, while the membrane retains the biomarkers. The evaluation demonstrated that osmosis induced by various water-soluble polymers efficiently extracted water from the specimens, ca. 5-15 ml/h. The osmotic processor concentrated the specimens to improve the lateral flow assays' detection limits for the model analytes-human chorionic gonadotropin and SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein. After the treatment via the osmotic processor, the lateral flow assays detected the corresponding biomarkers in the concentrated specimens. The test band intensities of the assays with the concentrated specimens were very similar to the reference assays with 100-fold concentrations. The mass spectrometry analysis estimated the SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid protein concentration increased ca. 200-fold after the osmosis. With its simplicity and flexibility, this device demonstrates a great potential to be utilized in conjunction with the existing lateral flow assays for enabling highly sensitive detection of dilute target analytes in urine.

4.
Clin Epidemiol ; 13: 935-940, 2021.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1731645

ABSTRACT

Testing for SARS-CoV-2 internationally has focused on COVID-19 diagnosis among symptomatic individuals using reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests. Recently, however, SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid lateral flow tests (LFT) have been rolled out in several countries for testing asymptomatic individuals in public health programmes. Validation studies for LFT have been largely cross-sectional, reporting sensitivity, specificity and predictive values of LFT relative to PCR. However, because PCR detects genetic material left behind for a long period when the individual is no longer infectious, these statistics can under-represent the sensitivity of LFT for detecting infectious individuals, especially when sampling asymptomatic populations. LFTs (intended to detect individuals shedding SARS-CoV-2 antigens) validated against PCR (intended to diagnose infection) are not reporting against a gold standard of equivalent measurements. Instead, these validation studies have reported relative performance statistics that need recalibrating to the purpose for which LFT is being used. We present an approach to this recalibration. We derive a formula for recalibrating relative performance statistics from LFT vs PCR validation studies to give likely absolute sensitivity of LFT for detecting individuals who are shedding shedding SARS-CoV-2 antigens. We contrast widely reported apparent sensitivities of LFT with recalibrated absolute sensitivity for detecting individuals shedding SARS-CoV-2 antigens. After accounting for within-individual viral kinetics and epidemic dynamics within asymptomatic populations we show that a highly performant test for SARS-CoV-2 antigen should show LFT-to-PCR relative sensitivity of less than 50% in conventional validation studies, which after re-calibration would be an absolute sensitivity of more than 80%. Further studies are needed to ascertain the absolute sensitivity of LFT as a test of infectiousness in COVID-19 responses. These studies should include longitudinal series of LFT and PCR, ideally in cohorts sampled from both contacts of cases and the general population.

5.
J Public Health (Oxf) ; 2022 Feb 04.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1684779

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Twice weekly lateral flow tests (LFTs) for secondary school children was UK Government policy from 8 March 2021. We evaluate use of LFTs (both supervised at test centres, and home test kits) in school-aged children in Cheshire and Merseyside. METHODS: We report (i) number of LFT positives (ii) proportion of LFT positive with confirmatory reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test within 2 days, and (iii) agreement between LFT-positive and confirmatory PCR, and dependence of (i-iii) on COVID-19 prevalence. FINDINGS: 1 248 468 LFTs were taken by 211 255 12-18 years old, and 163 914 by 52 116 5-11 years old between 6 November 2020 and 31 July 2021. Five thousand three hundred and fourteen (2.5%) 12-18 years old and 1996 (3.8%) 5-11 years old returned LFT positives, with 3829 (72.1%) and 1535 (76.9%) confirmatory PCRs, and 3357 (87.7%) and 1383 (90.1%) confirmatory PCR-positives, respectively.Monthly proportions of LFT positive with PCR negative varied between 4.7% and 35.3% in 12-18 years old (corresponding proportion of all tests positive: 9.7% and 0.3%).Deprivation and non-White ethnicity were associated with reduced uptake of confirmatory PCR. INTERPRETATION: Substantial inequalities in confirmatory testing need more attention to avoid further disadvantage through education loss. When prevalence is low additional measures, including confirmatory testing, are needed. Local Directors of Public Health taking more control over schools testing may be needed. FUNDING: DHSC, MRC, NIHR, EPSRC.

6.
J Infect ; 83(4): 452-457, 2021 10.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1340722

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVES: Real-world evaluation of the performance of the Innova lateral flow immunoassay antigen device (LFD) for regular COVID-19 testing of hospital workers. METHODS: This prospective cohort analysis took place at a London NHS Trust. 5076 secondary care healthcare staff participated in LFD testing from 18 November 2020 to21 January 2021. Staff members submitted results and symptoms via an online portal twice weekly. Individuals with positive LFD results were invited for confirmatory SARS CoV-2 PCR testing. The positive predictive value (PPV) of the LFD was measured. Secondary outcome measures included time from LFD result to PCR test and staff symptom profiles. RESULTS: 284/5076 individuals reported a valid positive LFD result, and a paired PCR result was obtained in 259/284 (91.2%). 244 were PCR positive yielding a PPV of 94.21% (244/259, 95% CI 90.73% to 96.43%). 204/259 (78.8%) staff members had the PCR within 36 hours of the LFD test. Symptom profiles were confirmed for 132/244 staff members (54.1%) with positive PCR results (true positives) and 13/15 (86.6%) with negative PCR results (false positives). 91/132 true positives (68.9%) were symptomatic at the time of LFD testing: 65/91 (71.4%) had symptoms meeting the PHE case definition of COVID-19, whilst 26/91 (28.6%) had atypical symptoms. 18/41 (43.9%) staff members who were asymptomatic at the time of positive LFD developed symptoms in the subsequent four days. 9/13 (76.9%) false positives were asymptomatic, 1/13 (7.7%) had atypical symptoms and 3/13 (23.1%) had symptoms matching the PHE case definition. CONCLUSIONS: The PPV of the Innova LFD is high when used amongst hospital staff during periods of high prevalence of COVID-19, yet we find frequent use by symptomatic staff rather than as a purely asymptomatic screening tool. LFD testing does allow earlier isolation of infected workers and facilitates detection of individuals whose symptoms do not qualify for PCR testing.


Subject(s)
COVID-19 , COVID-19 Testing , Cohort Studies , Health Personnel , Hospitals , Humans , London/epidemiology , Prospective Studies , SARS-CoV-2
7.
EClinicalMedicine ; 36: 100924, 2021 Jun.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1252787

ABSTRACT

BACKGROUND: Lateral flow device (LFD) viral antigen immunoassays have been developed around the world as diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2 infection. They have been proposed to deliver an infrastructure-light, cost-economical solution giving results within half an hour. METHODS: LFDs were initially reviewed by a Department of Health and Social Care team, part of the UK government, from which 64 were selected for further evaluation from 1st August to 15th December 2020. Standardised laboratory evaluations, and for those that met the published criteria, field testing in the Falcon-C19 research study and UK pilots were performed (UK COVID-19 testing centres, hospital, schools, armed forces). FINDINGS: 4/64 LFDs so far have desirable performance characteristics (orient Gene, Deepblue, Abbott and Innova SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Rapid Qualitative Test). All these LFDs have a viral antigen detection of >90% at 100,000 RNA copies/ml. 8951 Innova LFD tests were performed with a kit failure rate of 5.6% (502/8951, 95% CI: 5.1-6.1), false positive rate of 0.32% (22/6954, 95% CI: 0.20-0.48). Viral antigen detection/sensitivity across the sampling cohort when performed by laboratory scientists was 78.8% (156/198, 95% CI 72.4-84.3). INTERPRETATION: Our results suggest LFDs have promising performance characteristics for mass population testing and can be used to identify infectious positive individuals. The Innova LFD shows good viral antigen detection/sensitivity with excellent specificity, although kit failure rates and the impact of training are potential issues. These results support the expanded evaluation of LFDs, and assessment of greater access to testing on COVID-19 transmission. FUNDING: Department of Health and Social Care. University of Oxford. Public Health England Porton Down, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, National Institute of Health Research.

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