Evaluation of a commercial ELISA as alternative to plaque reduction neutralization test to detect neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2
High-throughput detection of neutralizing antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 presents a valuable tool for vaccine trials or investigations of population immunity. We evaluate the performance of the first commercial surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT, GenScript Biotech) against SARS-CoV-2 plaque reduction neutralization test (PRNT) in convalescent and vaccinated individuals. We compare it to five other ELISAs, two of which are designed to detect neutralizing antibodies. In 491 pre-vaccination serum samples, sVNT missed 23.6% of PRNT-positive samples when using the manufacturer-recommended cutoff of 30% binding inhibition. Introducing an equivocal area between 15 and 35% maximized sensitivity and specificity against PRNT to 72.8–93.1% and 73.5–97.6%, respectively. The overall diagnostic performance of the other ELISAs for neutralizing antibodies was below that of sVNT. Vaccinated individuals exhibited higher antibody titers by PRNT (median 119.8, IQR 56.7–160) and binding inhibition by sVNT (median 95.7, IQR 88.1–96.8) than convalescent patients (median 49.1, IQR 20–62; median 52.9, IQR 31.2–76.2). GenScript sVNT is suitable to screen for SARS-CoV-2-neutralizing antibodies; however, to obtain accurate results, confirmatory testing by PRNT in a equivocal area is required. This equivocal area may require adaptation for use in vaccinated individuals, due to higher antibody titers.
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