Lab Med. 2021 Apr 30:lmab033. doi: 10.1093/labmed/lmab033. Online ahead of print.
OBJECTIVE: This study aims to evaluate the performance of an antigen-based rapid diagnostic test (RDT) for the detection of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
METHODS: A cross-sectional study was conducted on 677 patients. Two nasopharyngeal swabs and 1 oropharyngeal swab were collected from patients. The RDT was performed onsite by a commercially available immune-chromatographic assay on the nasopharyngeal swab. The nasopharyngeal and oropharyngeal swabs were examined for SARS-CoV-2 RNA by real-time reverse-transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) assay.
RESULTS: The overall sensitivity of the SARS-CoV-2 RDT was 34.5% and the specificity was 99.8%. The positive predictive value and negative predictive value of the test were 96.6% and 91.5%, respectively. The detection rate of RDT in RT-qPCR positive results was high (45%) for cycle threshold values <25.
CONCLUSION: The utility of RDT is in diagnosing symptomatic patients and may not be particularly suited as a screening tool for patients with low viral load. The low sensitivity of RDT does not qualify its use as a single test in patients who test negative; RT-qPCR continues to be the gold standard test.