Detection of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the general population by three prevailing rapid antigen tests: cross-sectional diagnostic accuracy study

Roderick P. Venekamp*, Irene K. Veldhuijzen, Karel G.M. Moons, Wouter van den Bijllaardt, Suzan D. Pas, Esther B. Lodder, Richard Molenkamp, Zsofi Igloi, Constantijn Wijers, Claudy Oliveira dos Santos, Sylvia B. Debast, Marjan J. Bruins, Khaled Polad, Carla R.S. Nagel-Imming, Wanda G.H. Han, Janneke H.H.M. van de Wijgert, Susan van den Hof, Ewoud Schuit

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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Background: Rapid antigen diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) are the most widely used point-of-care tests for detecting SARS-CoV-2 infection. Since the accuracy may have altered by changes in SARS-CoV-2 epidemiology, indications for testing, sampling and testing procedures, and roll-out of COVID-19 vaccination, we evaluated the performance of three prevailing SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs. Methods: In this cross-sectional study, we consecutively enrolled individuals aged >16 years presenting for SARS-CoV-2 testing at three Dutch public health service COVID-19 test sites. In the first phase, participants underwent either BD-Veritor System (Becton Dickinson), PanBio (Abbott), or SD-Biosensor (Roche Diagnostics) testing with routine sampling procedures. In a subsequent phase, participants underwent SD-Biosensor testing with a less invasive sampling method (combined oropharyngeal-nasal [OP-N] swab). Diagnostic accuracies were assessed against molecular testing. Results: Six thousand nine hundred fifty-five of 7005 participants (99%) with results from both an Ag-RDT and a molecular reference test were analysed. SARS-CoV-2 prevalence and overall sensitivities were 13% (188/1441) and 69% (129/188, 95% CI 62–75) for BD-Veritor, 8% (173/2056) and 69% (119/173, 61–76) for PanBio, and 12% (215/1769) and 74% (160/215, 68–80) for SD-Biosensor with routine sampling and 10% (164/1689) and 75% (123/164, 68–81) for SD-Biosensor with OP-N sampling. In those symptomatic or asymptomatic at sampling, sensitivities were 72–83% and 54–56%, respectively. Above a viral load cut-off (≥5.2 log10 SARS-CoV-2 E-gene copies/mL), sensitivities were 86% (125/146, 79–91) for BD-Veritor, 89% (108/121, 82–94) for PanBio, and 88% (160/182, 82–92) for SD-Biosensor with routine sampling and 84% (118/141, 77–89) with OP-N sampling. Specificities were >99% for all tests in most analyses. Sixty-one per cent of false-negative Ag-RDT participants returned for testing within 14 days (median: 3 days, interquartile range 3) of whom 90% tested positive. Conclusions: Overall sensitivities of three SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs were 69–75%, increasing to ≥86% above a viral load cut-off. The decreased sensitivity among asymptomatic participants and high positivity rate during follow-up in false-negative Ag-RDT participants emphasise the need for education of the public about the importance of re-testing after an initial negative Ag-RDT should symptoms develop. For SD-Biosensor, the diagnostic accuracy with OP-N and deep nasopharyngeal sampling was similar; adopting the more convenient sampling method might reduce the threshold for professional testing.

Original languageEnglish
Article number97
JournalBMC Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank the participants and study staff at the participating public health service test sites, participating laboratories, the University Medical Center Utrecht, and RIVM for their contributions to the study. A special thanks to Esther Stiefelhagen, Roel Ensing, Wendy Mouthaan, Lieke Brouwer, and Timo Boelsums. Written permission was obtained from all five of them to list their names. ES, RE, WH, LB, and TB did not receive any compensation for their contributions.

Funding Information:
This study was funded by the Dutch Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport. The funder had no role in the study design; collection, analysis, and interpretation of data; writing of the report; and decision to submit the paper for publication.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s).


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