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A Serology Strategy for Epidemiological Studies Based on the Comparison of the Performance of Seven Different Test Systems - The Representative COVID-19 Cohort Munich (preprint)
medrxiv; 2021.
Preprint in English | medRxiv | ID: ppzbmed-10.1101.2021.01.13.21249735
ABSTRACT
BackgroundSerosurveys are essential to understand SARS-CoV-2 exposure and enable population-level surveillance, but currently available tests need further in-depth evaluation. We aimed to identify testing-strategies by comparing seven seroassays in a population-based cohort. MethodsWe analysed 6,658 samples consisting of true-positives (n=193), true-negatives (n=1,091), and specimens of unknown status (n=5,374). For primary testing, we used Euroimmun-Anti-SARS-CoV-2-ELISA-IgA/IgG and Roche-Elecsys-Anti-SARS-CoV-2; and virus-neutralisation, GeneScript(R)cPass, VIRAMED-SARS-CoV-2-ViraChip(R), and Mikrogen-recomLine-SARS-CoV-2-IgG, including common-cold CoVs, for confirmatory testing. Statistical modelling generated optimised assay cut-off-thresholds. FindingsSensitivity of Euroimmun-anti-S1-IgA was 64.8%, specificity 93.3%; for Euroimmun-anti-S1-IgG, sensitivity was 77.2/79.8% (manufacturers/optimised cut-offs), specificity 98.0/97.8%; Roche-anti-N sensitivity was 85.5/88.6%, specificity 99.8/99.7%. In true-positives, mean and median titres remained stable for at least 90-120 days after RT-PCR-positivity. Of true-positives with positive RT-PCR (<30 days), 6.7% did not mount detectable seroresponses. Virus-neutralisation was 73.8% sensitive, 100.0% specific (110 dilution). Neutralisation surrogate tests (GeneScript(R)cPass, Mikrogen-recomLine-RBD) were >94.9% sensitive, >98.1% specific. Seasonality had limited effects; cross-reactivity with common-cold CoVs 229E and NL63 in SARS-CoV-2 true-positives was significant. ConclusionOptimised cut-offs improved test performances of several tests. Non-reactive serology in true-positives was uncommon. For epidemiological purposes, confirmatory testing with virus-neutralisation may be replaced with GeneScript(R)cPass or recomLine-RBD. Head-to-head comparisons given here aim to contribute to the refinement of testing-strategies for individual and public health use.
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