Use of dried blood spot samples for SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection using the Roche Elecsys high throughput immunoassay

Ranya Mulchandani*, Ben Brown , Tim Brooks , Amanda Semper , Nicholas Machin , Ezra Linley , Ray Borrow , David Wyllie , et al.

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)
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Dried blood spot samples (DBS) provide an alternative sample type to venous blood samples for antibody testing. DBS are used by NHS for diagnosing Hepatitis C and by Public Health England for large scale HIV and Hepatitis C serosurveillance; the applicability of DBS based approaches for SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection is uncertain. The study aimed to compare antibody detection in DBS eluates using the Roche Elecsys ® immunoassay with antibody detection in paired plasma samples, using the same assay. The study was in one Police and one Fire & Rescue facility in England; it comprised of 195 participants within a larger sample COVID-19 serodiagnostics study of keyworkers, EDSAB-HOME. Outcome measures were sensitivity and specificity of DBS (the index test) relative to plasma (the reference test), at an experimental cut-off; quality of DBS sample collected; estimates of relative sensitivity of DBS vs. plasma immunoassay in a larger population. 18/195 (9.2%) participants tested positive using plasma samples. DBS sample quality varied markedly by phlebotomist, and low sample volume significantly reduced immunoassay signals. Using an experimental cut-off, sensitivity and specificity of DBS were 89.0% (95% CI 67.2, 96.9%) and 100.0% (95% CI 97.9, 100%) respectively compared with using plasma. The limit of detection for DBS is about 30 times higher than for plasma. DBS use for SARS-CoV-2 serology, though feasible, is insensitive relative to immunoassays on plasma. Sample quality impacts on assay performance. Alternatives, including the collection of capillary blood samples, should be considered for screening programs.
Original languageEnglish
Article number104739
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Clinical Virology
Early online date19 Jan 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2021

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© 2021

Structured keywords

  • Covid19


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