Improved diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 by using nucleoprotein and spike protein fragment 2 in quantitative dual ELISA tests
De Marco Verissimo, Carolina
López Corrales, Jesús
Doyle, Jack M.
Ribes Martinez, Eduardo
Laffey, John G.
Dalton, John P.
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De Marco Verissimo, Carolina, O'Brien, Carol, López Corrales, Jesús, Dorey, Amber, Cwiklinski, Krystyna, Lalor, Richard, Doyle, Jack M., Field, Stephen, Masterson, Claire, Ribes Martinez, Eduardo, Hughes, Gerry, Bergin, Colm, Walshe, Kieran, McNicholas, Bairbre, Laffey, John G., Dalton, John P., Kerr, Colm, Doyle, Sean. (2021). Improved diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 by using nucleoprotein and spike protein fragment 2 in quantitative dual ELISA tests. Epidemiology and Infection, 149, e140. doi: 10.1017/S0950268821001308
The novel coronavirus, severe acute respiratory syndrome-coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2), is the causative agent of the 2020 worldwide coronavirus pandemic. Antibody testing is useful for diagnosing historic infections of a disease in a population. These tests are also a helpful epidemiological tool for predicting how the virus spreads in a community, relating antibody levels to immunity and for assessing herd immunity. In the present study, SARS-CoV-2 viral proteins were recombinantly produced and used to analyse serum from individuals previously exposed, or not, to SARS-CoV-2. The nucleocapsid (Npro) and spike subunit 2 (S2Frag) proteins were identified as highly immunogenic, although responses to the former were generally greater. These two proteins were used to develop two quantitative enzyme-linked immunosorbent assays (ELISAs) that when used in combination resulted in a highly reliable diagnostic test. Npro and S2Frag-ELISAs could detect at least 10% more true positive coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) cases than the commercially available ARCHITECT test (Abbott). Moreover, our quantitative ELISAs also show that specific antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 proteins tend to wane rapidly even in patients who had developed severe disease. As antibody tests complement COVID-19 diagnosis and determine population-level surveillance during this pandemic, the alternative diagnostic we present in this study could play a role in controlling the spread of the virus.