SARS-CoV-2 Serologic Assays in Control and Unknown Populations Demonstrate the Necessity of Virus Neutralization Testing
To determine how serologic antibody testing outcome links with virus neutralization of SARS-CoV-2 to ascertain immune protection status, we evaluated a unique set of individuals for SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection and viral neutralization. Methods: Herein, we compare several analytic platforms with 15 positive and 30 negative SARS-CoV-2 infected controls followed by viral neutralization assessment. We then applied these platforms in a clinically relevant population: 114 individuals with unknown
... stories of SARS-CoV-2 infection. Results: In control populations, the best performing antibody detection assays were SARS-CoV-2 receptor binding domain (RBD) IgG (specificity 87%, sensitivity 100%, PPV 100%, NPV 93%), spike IgG3 (specificity 93%, sensitivity 97%, PPV 93%, NPV 97%), and nucleocapsid (NP) protein IgG (specificity 93%, sensitivity 97%, PPV 93%, NPV 97%). Neutralization of positive and negative control sera showed 100% agreement. 20 unknown individuals had detectable SARS-CoV-2 antibodies with 16 demonstrating virus neutralization. The antibody assays that best predicted virus neutralization were RBD IgG (misidentified 2), spike IgG3 (misidentified 1), and NP IgG (misidentified 2). Conclusion: These data suggest that meaningful evaluation of antibody assay performance requires testing in an unknown population. Further, these results indicate coupling of virus neutralization analysis to a positive antibody test is required to categorize patients based on SARS-CoV-2 immune protection status following virus exposure or vaccine administration. One of the antibody detection platforms identified in this study followed by the pseudoneutralization or focus reduction assay would provide a practical testing strategy to assess for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies with optimal prediction of correlates to neutralizing immunity.