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BACKGROUND: SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen (Ag) detection kits are widely used in addition to quantitative reverse transcription PCR PCR (RT-qPCR), as they are cheaper with a rapid turnaround time. As there are many concerns regarding their sensitivity and specificity, in different settings, we evaluated two WHO approved rapid Ag kits in a large cohort of Sri Lankan individuals. METHODS: Paired nasopharangeal swabs were obtained from 4786 participants for validation of the SD-Biosensor rapid Ag assay and 3325 for the Abbott rapid Ag assay, in comparison to RT-qPCR. A short questionnaire was used to record symptoms at the time of testing, and blood samples were obtained from 2721 of them for detection of SARS-CoV-2 specific antibodies. RESULTS: The overall sensitivity of the SD-Biosensor Ag kit was 36.5% and the Abbott Ag test was 50.76%. The Abbott Ag test showed specificity of 99.4% and the SD-Biosensor Ag test 97.5%. At Ct values  30 (46.1 to 82.9%). 32.1% of those who gave a positive result with the SD-Biosensor Ag test and 26.3% of those who gave positive results with the Abbott Ag test had SARS-CoV-2 antibodies at the time of detection. CONCLUSIONS: Both rapid Ag tests appeared to be highly sensitive in detecting individuals at lower Ct values, in a community setting in Sri Lanka, but it will be important to further establish the relationship to infectivity.

Original publication




Journal article


BMC Infect Dis

Publication Date





Abbott Ag test, Antibodies, PCR, Rapid antigen tests, SARS-CoV-2, SD-Biosensor Ag test, Antibodies, Viral, COVID-19, Humans, RNA, Viral, SARS-CoV-2, World Health Organization