As the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), which is caused by the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, continues to spread rapidly around the world, there is an urgent need for validated serological assays to evaluate viral specific antibody responses in COVID-19 patients or recovered individuals. In this study, we established and used indirect Enzyme Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA)-based serological tests to study the antibody response in COVID-19 patients. In order to validate the assays, we determined the cut-off values, sensitivity and specificity of the developed assays using sera collected from COVID-19 patients in Saudi Arabia at different time points after disease onset, as well as sera that are seropositive to other human CoVs; namely MERS-CoV, hCoV-OC43, hCoV-NL63, hCoV-229E, and hCoV-HKU1. The SARS-CoV-2 S1 subunit of the spike glycoprotein and nucleocapsid (N) ELISAs that we developed here not only showed high specificity and sensitivity, but also did not show any cross-reactivity with other CoVs. We also showed that all RT-PCR confirmed COVID-19 patients included in our study developed both virus specific IgM and IgG as early as one week after the onset of disease. The availability of these validated assays will enable us to determine the nature and duration of the antibody response mounted in response to SARS-CoV-2 infection. It will also allow conducting large-scale epidemiological studies to determine evidence of previous exposure to the virus and assess the true extent of virus spread within communities.
SARS-CoV-2 serology; ELISA; N protein; COVID-19; serosurvey
MEDICINE & PHARMACOLOGY, Allergology
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