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OBJECTIVES: To examine the added value of anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody testing in a nursing home during an acute COVID-19 outbreak. RT-PCR is the gold standard, but can be false-negative. METHODS: 119 residents and 93 staff members were tested with RT-PCR test and/or a rapid IgM/IgG test. Of these participants, 176 had both tests, 24 only RT-PCR, and 12 only IgM/IgG in the period April 14 to 16 April 2020. RESULTS: 40 (34%) residents and 11 (13%) staff were PCR-positive. Using a rapid IgM/IgG test, 17 (17%) residents and 18 (20%) staff were positive for IgM and/or IgG (IgM/IgG). Thirty-two PCR-positive residents had an IgM/IgG test: 9 (28%), 11 (34%), and 13 (41%) were positive for IgM, IgG, and IgM/IgG. Ten PCR-positive staff had an IgM/IgG test: 3 (30%), 6 (60%), and 6 (60%) were positive for IgM, IgG, and IgM/IgG. Additional IgM/IgG tests were performed in 9 residents 11 to 14 days after the positive RT-PCR test. Of those, 7 (78%) tested positive for IgM/IgG. When retested 3 weeks later, the 2 remaining residents also tested positive. Of the 134 PCR-negative participants who had an IgM/IgG test, 15 were positive for IgM/IgG (8% of the 200 participants tested with RT-PCR). CONCLUSIONS: During an acute outbreak in a nursing home, 26% of residents and staff were PCR-positive. An additional 8% was diagnosed using IgM/IgG antibody testing. The use of RT-PCR alone as the sole diagnostic method for surveillance during an acute outbreak is insufficient to grab the full extent of the outbreak.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Clin Belg

Publication Date



1 - 6


COVID-19, disease outbreaks, immunoassay, point-of-care testing, sensitivity and specificity