Study: Abbott antigen test can detect COVID-19 in asymptomatic people

A study out of Spain found that an antigen test made by Abbott (NYSE:ABT) is capable of detecting COVID-19 infection in asymptomatic people.

Antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests are seen as a potential alternative to the standard for COVID-19 diagnosis, the RT-qPCR test, which has drawbacks including the need for laboratory processing, high cost and some long turnaround from sampling to result release, according to the study’s background.

While antigen tests have come under some scrutiny lately, including an FDA guidance regarding false-positive results with the diagnostics, Abbott’s Ag-RDT Panbio COVID-19 Ag test was assessed in the study in comparison to the PCR tests, with promising results uncovered.

Using nasopharyngeal swabs, the study’s researchers observed that Abbott’s test identified the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in 872 of 951 PCR-positive samples (91.7%) and ruled out its presence in 450 of 455 PCR-negative samples (98.9%).

Abbott’s Panbio test displayed a high sensitivity for detecting the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in nasal or nasopharyngeal swabs of both symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, with strong performance in samples with viral loads associated with a high risk of viral transmission, too.

The results of the study provide evidence that the point-of-care antigen test from Abbott can accurately identify COVID-19 antigens in people with suspected cases, as well as in asymptomatic people, which may aid in mass screening of the latter population.

Blueberry diagnostics, Fundacio Institut d’Investigacio en Ciencies de la Salut Germans Trias i Pujol, and the crowdfunding campaign contributed to the study, which was conducted by a team led by Andrea Alemany of Hospital Universitari Germans Trias i Pujol, Badalona, Spain.

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