Aims: Mass antigen testing programs have been challenged because of an alleged insufficient specificity, leading to a large number of false positives. The objective of this study is to derive a lower bound of the specificity of the SD Biosensor Standard Q Ag-Test in large scale practical use. Methods: Based on county data from the nationwide tests for SARS-CoV-2 in Slovakia between 31.10.–1.11. 2020 we calculate a lower confidence bound for the specificity. As positive test results were not systematically verified by PCR tests, we base the lower bound on a worst case assumption, assuming all positives to be false positives. Results: 3,625,332 persons from 79 counties were tested. The lowest positivity rate was observed in the county of Rožňava where 100 out of 34307 (0.29%) tests were positive. This implies a test specificity of at least 99.6% (97.5% one-sided lower confidence bound, adjusted for multiplicity). Conclusion: The obtained lower bound suggests a higher specificity compared to earlier studies in spite of the underlying worst case assumption and the application in a mass testing setting. The actual specificity is expected to exceed 99.6% if the prevalence in the respective regions was non-negligible at the time of testing. To our knowledge, this estimate constitutes the first bound obtained from large scale practical use of an antigen test.
We would like to thank Alfred Uhl, Richard Kollár and Katarína Bod’ová for very helpful comments. We also thank Matej Mišík for discussion and information regarding the Slovak testing data and Ag-Test used.
Hledik M, Polechova J, Beiglböck M, Herdina AN, Strassl R, Posch M. Analysis of the specificity of a COVID-19 antigen test in the Slovak mass testing program. PLoS ONE. 2021;16(7). doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0255267
Hledik, M., Polechova, J., Beiglböck, M., Herdina, A. N., Strassl, R., & Posch, M. (2021). Analysis of the specificity of a COVID-19 antigen test in the Slovak mass testing program. PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0255267
Hledik, Michal, Jitka Polechova, Mathias Beiglböck, Anna Nele Herdina, Robert Strassl, and Martin Posch. “Analysis of the Specificity of a COVID-19 Antigen Test in the Slovak Mass Testing Program.” PLoS ONE. Public Library of Science, 2021. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0255267.
M. Hledik, J. Polechova, M. Beiglböck, A. N. Herdina, R. Strassl, and M. Posch, “Analysis of the specificity of a COVID-19 antigen test in the Slovak mass testing program,” PLoS ONE, vol. 16, no. 7. Public Library of Science, 2021.
Hledik M, Polechova J, Beiglböck M, Herdina AN, Strassl R, Posch M. 2021. Analysis of the specificity of a COVID-19 antigen test in the Slovak mass testing program. PLoS ONE. 16(7), e0255267.
Hledik, Michal, et al. “Analysis of the Specificity of a COVID-19 Antigen Test in the Slovak Mass Testing Program.” PLoS ONE, vol. 16, no. 7, e0255267, Public Library of Science, 2021, doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0255267.
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