Background: In December 2019, a novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) causing symptomatic illness (COVID-19) occurred in Wuhan, China. Travel-associated cases were reported in many other countries leading to epidemic transmission. The number of cases has increased rapidly but laboratory diagnosis is limited.
Methods: We collected samples from two groups of patients diagnosed with COVID-19 for experiments. In one group, 63 serum samples were analyzed IgG and IgM antibodies by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) and 35 healthy serum samples were served as controls. In the other group, 91 plasma samples were analyzed by colloidal gold-immunochromatographic assay (GICA) for IgG and IgM antibodies and 35 healthy plasma samples were served as controls. Throat swab samples for nucleic acids retest were collected from 81/91 of these participant.
Results: The sensitivity of the combined ELISA IgM and IgG detection was 55/63 (87.3%). Sensitivity of the com-bined GICA IgM and IgG detection was 75/91 (82.4%). Both methods were negative for healthy controls and had a specificity of 100%. In 81 cases, the follow up throat swab samples were retested by RT-PCR, showing that 42 cases were positive. The sensitivity was 51.9% (42/81). The area under the receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve for IgG (AUC(IgG)) was 0.934. The area under the ROC curve for IgM (AUC(IgM)) was 0.812. The area under the ROC curve for IgG + IgM (AUC(IgG+IgM)) was 0.983.
Conclusions: The serological test of SARS-CoV-2 can be used as an important supplement to the existing RT-PCR test for the specific and rapid diagnosis of COVID-19. AUC(IgG) > AUC(IgM) indicates that IgG has better classification performance than IgM. AUC(IgG + IgM) > AUC(IgG) indicates that the combination of IgG and IgM has better classification performance than IgG alone.