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Year : 2021  |  Volume : 23  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 201-204

Speed versus sensitivity: Performance of SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen test in the hospital setting

1 Department of Microbiology, AFMC, Pune, India
2 Department of Community Medicine, AFMC, Pune, India
3 Department of Internal Medicine, AFMC, Pune, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Lt Col (Dr) Santosh Karade
AFMC, Pune, Maharashtra
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jmms.jmms_29_21

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Background: As the world battles the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, rapid detection is the key to contain the spread of the disease. Although real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) remains the gold standard for the diagnosis of severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection, it demands specialized equipment and technical expertise. SARS-CoV-2 rapid antigen detection test (RAT) is the user-friendly alternative, which needs evaluation in the hospital setting. Materials and Methods: This cross-sectional study was carried out at the Indian Council of Medical Research approved COVID-19 diagnostic molecular laboratory between November and December 2020. Nasopharyngeal swabs in viral transport medium (VTM) were received from suspected SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals were processed for SARS-CoV-2 RT-PCR and a rapid antigen detection test, COVID-19 Ag Respi-Strip. Results: A total of 342 samples were assessed for this study by RT-PCR and Rapid Antigen Test. The sensitivity of RAT was found to be 41% at an RT-PCR cycle threshold of 35 or below. Sensitivity of RAT improved to 81.2% when a RT-PCR cycle threshold of 25 or below was considered as positive. Specificity of RAT was 99% to 100%. Conclusion: Rapid antigen test is a cost-effective alternative for screening of symptomatic individuals in the hospital setting. However, due to low sensitivity, the negative results need to be interpreted with caution.

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