In Practice

The role of serological testing in the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak

E S Mayne, L Scott, B Semete, A Julsing, S Jugwanth, N Mampeule, A David, M P Gededzha, A Goga, D Hardie, W Preiser, K Chetty, H Rees, I Sanne, K Mlisana, J A George, W Stevens

Abstract


Antibody tests for the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV2, have been developed both as rapid diagnostic assays and for high-throughput formal serology platforms. Although these tests may be a useful adjunct to a diagnostic strategy, they have a number of limitations. Because of the antibody and viral dynamics of the coronavirus, their sensitivity can be variable, especially at early time points after symptom onset. Additional data are required on the performance of the tests in the South African population, especially with regard to development and persistence of antibody responses and whether antibodies are protective against reinfection. These tests may, however, be useful in guiding the public health response, providing data for research (including seroprevalence surveys and vaccine initiatives) and development of therapeutic strategies.


Authors' affiliations

E S Mayne, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

L Scott, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

B Semete, South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, Pretoria, South Africa

A Julsing, South African Health Products Regulatory Authority, Pretoria, South Africa

S Jugwanth, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

N Mampeule, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

A David, Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

M P Gededzha, Department of Immunology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa; National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

A Goga, South African Medical Research Council, Pretoria, South Africa; Department of Paediatrics, Steve Biko Hospital and School of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Pretoria, South Africa

D Hardie, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Medical Virology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, South Africa

W Preiser, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Division of Medical Virology, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, Stellenbosch University, Cape Town, South Africa

K Chetty, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

H Rees, Wits Reproductive Health and HIV Institute, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

I Sanne, Clinical HIV Research Unit, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

K Mlisana, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa

J A George, Department of Chemical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

W Stevens, National Health Laboratory Service, Johannesburg, South Africa; Department of Molecular Medicine and Haematology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg, South Africa

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Keywords

Serology; COVID-19; Pathology; Public health

Cite this article

South African Medical Journal 2020;110(9):842-845.

Article History

Date submitted: 2020-07-17
Date published: 2020-07-17

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