Simple, sensitive, specific self-sampling assay secures SARS-CoV-2 antibody signals in sero-prevalence and post-vaccine studies

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At-home sampling is key to large scale seroprevalence studies. Dried blood spot (DBS) self-sampling removes the need for medical personnel for specimen collection but facilitates specimen referral to an appropriately accredited laboratory for accurate sample analysis. To establish a highly sensitive and specific antibody assay that would facilitate self-sampling for prevalence and vaccine-response studies. Paired sera and DBS eluates collected from 439 sero-positive, 382 sero-negative individuals and DBS from 34 vaccine recipients were assayed by capture ELISAs for IgG and IgM antibody to SARS-CoV-2. IgG and IgM combined on DBS eluates achieved a diagnostic sensitivity of 97.9% (95%CI 96.6 to 99.3) and a specificity of 99.2% (95% CI 98.4 to 100) compared to serum, displaying limits of detection equivalent to 23 and 10 WHO IU/ml, respectively. A strong correlation (r = 0.81) was observed between serum and DBS reactivities. Reactivity remained stable with samples deliberately rendered inadequate, (p = 0.234) and when samples were accidentally damaged or 'invalid'. All vaccine recipients were sero-positive. This assay provides a secure method for self-sampling by DBS with a sensitivity comparable to serum. The feasibility of DBS testing in sero-prevalence studies and in monitoring post-vaccine responses was confirmed, offering a robust and reliable tool for serological monitoring at a population level.

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Volume 12
Issue number 1
Pages 1885
Available online
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