Comparative performance of SARS-CoV-2 lateral flow antigen tests and association with detection of infectious virus in clinical specimens: A single-centre laboratory evaluation study

In this 2021 article published in the journal The Lancet Microbe, Pickering et al. present their findings concerning the comparison of antigen lateral flow devices (LFDs) for COVID-19 and virus infectivity, noting their study is “the largest to date assessing the correlation between [cycle threshold] values, quantitative culture of infectious virus, and antigen test positivity, alongside an unbiased head-to-head comparison of six commercial antigen tests.” The authors thoroughly discuss their methods, including acquisition and use of study samples, use of qRT-PCR, choosing of rapid antigen tests, development of viral growth assays, and use of statistical analysis. After presenting their results and discussing them in detail, the authors conclude that their “data support the judicious use of LFDs for rapid antigen detection: not to replace PCR testing, but to supplement current testing capacity and rapidly identify infected individuals in situations in which they would otherwise go undetected,” and that the benefits of careful LFD use “outweigh the risk of missing positive cases.”

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