RCR OT 01 – “Rapid collaborative review on the current role of antibody tests for novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2 in the management of the pandemic” – final assessment now available
EUnetHTA is pleased to announce that the “Rapid Collaborative Review on the current role of antibody tests for novel coronavirus SARS-COV-2 in the management of the pandemic” is now available. This is the first rapid review assessing health technologies for SARS-CoV-2.
The general objective of this assessment was to provide a reliable synthesis of the available evidence on several pressing health policy questions related to screening, diagnosis, and monitoring of the disease’s course.
The specific research questions were:
- Whether and with which testing strategies, antibody tests can be reliably used for early detection of new asymptomatic cases of SARS-CoV-2 acute infection and for diagnosis in patients presenting symptoms suggestive of SARS-CoV-2 infection.
- How antibody tests can be used for measuring seroprevalence in communities; ruling out further risk of transmission in recovered patients and assessing protective immunity in subjects with past and resolved SARS-CoV-2 infection.
This assessment has been carried out in just over five weeks and published on the 23rd of June 2020. Owing to the urgency of the situation, both the present assessment and the included primary studies were performed very rapidly. As a result of the quality and limited number of eligible studies, the present assessment confirms the persistence of uncertainty on the role of antibody tests in SARS-CoV-2 diagnosis and management. Since many studies are still ongoing and their results expected in the near future, this assessment will be updated when evidence suitable to reduce this uncertainty will be available.
Please access the review here:
Note: Since the publication of this Rapid Collaborative Review on the 23rd June, several good quality systematic reviews addressing the question on diagnostic use of SARS-COV-2 antibody tests in asymptomatic and symptomatic patients have been published. These more recent reviews have confirmed our findings and the limitations of the screening and diagnostic use of these tests, due to how antibodies develop and the time it takes to become detectable. While the retrieved studies in our review showed antibody tests are “responsive” to be used in seroprevalence studies, the current knowledge on the natural history of the disease – namely virus clearance and immunity – is still too limited to allow investigation of a potential role of antibody tests in these intended uses.
In light of the above, the Assessment Team has agreed not to proceed with further updates of this review.