Background: Real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) of virus nucleic acid test (NAT) has become the standard method to diagnose severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. However, there are still many limitations, especially the problem of the high false negative rate. Therefore, the aim of this study was to investigate the positive rate of SARS-CoV-2 NAT and evaluate the diagnostic performance of SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG antibody detection in novel coronavirus infection.
Methods: A total of 10309 suspected or high-risk cases of infection with SARS-CoV-2 in Wuhan Hubei, China, were tested for virus NAT by RT-PCR. Among those cases, 762 COVID-19 patients and 143 patients with non-COVID-19 who were tested for SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG during the NAT period were screened. The difference between the two test methods was analyzed using the chi-square test.
Results: The positive rate of 10309 cases was about 36% (95% CI: 33.39%–39.67%). SARS-CoV-2 was present in various types of specimens, and alveolar lavage fluid had the highest positive rate [52.38% (95% CI: 31.02–73.74)]. The clinical sensitivity of serum SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG was 77.17% (588/762) and 94.88% (723/762), respectively, and the clinical specificity was 93.71% (134/143) and 90.21% (129/143). The area under the curve (AUC) of SARS-CoV-2 IgG and combination of IgG with IgM were equally larger than IgM [0.973 (95% CI: 0.964–0.983) vs 0.930 (95% CI: 0.910–0.949)]. IgG antibody had the highest specificity [100.0% (95% CI: 100.00%–100.00%)] and sensitivity [94.0% (95% CI: 92.45%–95.55%)] when detected alone or in combination with IgM antibody. The total coincidence rate of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies detection and SARS-CoV-2 NAT for the diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection was 92.04% (833/905). Among the 34 SARS-CoV-2 NAT-negative patients with clinical symptoms and CT imaging features, 29 (85.29%) patients were positive for SARS-CoV-2 IgM, and 31 (91.76%) were positive for IgG.
Conclusion: SARS-CoV-2 NAT should be considered for many types of specimens, and the combined test of SARS-CoV-2 IgM and IgG can make up for the problem of missed NAT in COVID-19 patients.