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    SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in respiratory samples for weeks after onset of COVID-19 disease. Therefore, one of the diagnostic challenges of PCR positive cases is differentiating between acute COVID-19 disease and convalescent phase. The presence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid antigen in serum and plasma samples of COVID-19 patients has been demonstrated previously. Our study aimed to characterize the analytical specificity and sensitivity of an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (Salocor SARS-CoV-2 Antigen Quantitative Assay Kit© (Salofa Ltd, Salo, Finland)) for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid antigen in serum, and to characterize the kinetics of antigenemia. The evaluation material included a negative serum panel of 155 samples, and 126 serum samples from patients with PCR-confirmed COVID-19. The specificity of the Salocor SARS-CoV-2 serum nucleocapsid antigen test was 98.0 %. In comparison with simultaneous positive PCR from upper respiratory tract (URT) specimens, the test sensitivity was 91.7 %. In a serum panel in which the earliest serum sample was collected two days before the collection of positive URT specimen, and the latest 48 days after (median 1 day post URT sample collection), the serum N antigen test sensitivity was 95.6 % within 14 days post onset of symptoms. The antigenemia resolved approximately two weeks after the onset of disease and diagnostic PCR. The combination of simultaneous SARS-CoV-2 antigen and antibody testing appeared to provide useful information for timing of COVID-19. Our results suggest that SARS-CoV-2 N-antigenemia may be used as a diagnostic marker in acute COVID-19. Copyright © 2022 The Authors. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.


    M J Ahava, S Kurkela, S Kuivanen, M Lappalainen, H Jarva, A J Jääskeläinen. Detection of SARS-CoV-2 nucleocapsid antigen from serum can aid in timing of COVID-19 infection. Journal of virological methods. 2022 Apr;302:114469

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    PMID: 35051445

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