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Evaluation of a SARS-CoV-2 surrogate virus neutralization test for detection of antibody

in human, canine, cat and hamster sera

In a recent study published in the Journal of Clinical Microbiology of the American Society for Microbiology, Professor Leo Poon and Professor Malik Peiris, along with the HKU School of Public Health, have evaluated a specific type of SARS-CoV-2 test enabling to detect antibody across human and diverse animal species.

In the global pandemic the world is currently facing, surrogate neutralization assays for SARS-CoV-2 in multiple species are desirable. For sero-epidemiology studies and in outbreak investigations, it is important to detect antibody responses in humans and animals to determine evidence of past infection with SARS-CoV-2. Antibody assays that are transferable across species are desirable because SARS-CoV-2 infects pets and other farmed animals. Such tests are crucial for monitoring antibody responses in experimental animal models and in studies to identify the natural animal reservoir of SARS-CoV-2.

The test evaluated is a recently developed surrogate virus neutralization test (sVNT). The research teams have evaluated the test in comparison to 90% plaque reduction neutralization tests (PRNT90) in human, canine, cat and hamster sera. With PRNT90 as reference, sVNT had sensitivity of 98.9% and specificity of 98.8% respectively.

The study highlights an excellent concordance between the sVNT and the “gold-standard” PRNT90 assays for SARS-CoV-2 antibody detection in humans, dogs, cat and hamster sera. This assay would be of great utility as a species-independent and specific assay for primary testing for antibodies to Sarbecoviruses (SARS-CoV-2, SARS-CoV-1 and closely related viruses) in humans or animals. The sVNT test also has the advantage of technical simplicity, speed (a few hours) and not requiring cell culture facilities or BSL-3 containment.


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