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Evaluations of serological test in the diagnosis of 2019 novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infections during the COVID-19 outbreak

By Dachuan Lin, Lei Liu, Mingxia Zhang, Yunlong Hu, Qianting Yang, Jiubiao Guo, Youchao Dai, Yuzhong Xu, Yi Cai, Xinchun Chen, Kaisong Huang, Zheng Zhang

Posted 30 Mar 2020
medRxiv DOI: 10.1101/2020.03.27.20045153

The ongoing SARS-CoV-2 outbreak has killed over twenty-one thousand and sickened over four hundred thousand people worldwide, posing a great challenge to global public health. A sensitive and accurate diagnosis method will substantially help to control disease expansion. Here, we developed a chemiluminescence-immunoassay method based on the recombinant nucleocapsid antigen and the magnetic beads for diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infections and surveillance of antibody changing pattern. Serums from 29 healthy individuals, 51 tuberculosis patients, and 79 SARS-CoV-2 confirmed patients were employed to evaluate the performance of this approach. Compared to the IgM testing, the IgG testing was more reliable in which it identified 65 SARS-CoV-2 infections from the 79 confirmed patients and only two false-positive cases from the 80 control group with a sensitivity and specificity reaching 82.28% and 97.5%, respectively. However, only a slight difference (not statistically significant) in the detected cases of SARS-CoV-2 infections was observed between the IgM and IgG testing manner in patients at a different time of onset of disease. A performance comparison between an ELISA kit using the same nucleocapsid antigen and our chemiluminescence method was undertaken. The same false-positive cases were seen in both methods from the paired control group, while ELISA kit can only detect half of the SARS-CoV-2 infections from paired SARS-CoV-2 confirmed patients group than that of the chemiluminescence method, indicating a higher performance for the chemiluminescence-immunoassay approach. Together, our studies provide a useful and valuable serological testing tool for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infections in the community.

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