Clin Chem Lab Med. 2021 Apr 27. doi: 10.1515/cclm-2021-0455. Online ahead of print.
With an almost unremittent progression of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infections all around the world, there is a compelling need to introduce rapid, reliable, and high-throughput testing to allow appropriate clinical management and/or timely isolation of infected individuals. Although nucleic acid amplification testing (NAAT) remains the gold standard for detecting and theoretically quantifying SARS-CoV-2 mRNA in various specimen types, antigen assays may be considered a suitable alternative, under specific circumstances. Rapid antigen tests are meant to detect viral antigen proteins in biological specimens (e.g. nasal, nasopharyngeal, saliva), to indicate current SARS-CoV-2 infection. The available assay methodology includes rapid chromatographic immunoassays, used at the point-of-care, which carries some advantages and drawbacks compared to more conventional, instrumentation-based, laboratory immunoassays. Therefore, this document by the International Federation for Clinical Chemistry and Laboratory Medicine (IFCC) Taskforce on COVID-19 aims to summarize available data on the performance of currently available SARS-CoV-2 antigen rapid detection tests (Ag-RDTs), providing interim guidance on clinical indications and target populations, assay selection, and evaluation, test interpretation and limitations, as well as on pre-analytical considerations. This document is hence mainly aimed to assist laboratory and regulated health professionals in selecting, validating, and implementing regulatory approved Ag-RDTs.