Antigen-based testing but not real-time PCR correlates with SARS-CoV-2 virus culture

Andrew Pekosz, Charles K. Cooper, Valentin Parvu, Maggie Li, Jeffrey C. Andrews, Yukari C. Manabe, Salma Kodsi, Jeffry Leitch, Devin S. Gary, Celine Roger-Dalbert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Individuals can test positive for SARS-CoV-2 by real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) after no longer being infectious.1-8 Positive SARS-CoV-2 antigen-based testing exhibits a temporal pattern that corresponds with active, replicating virus and could therefore be a more accurate predictor of an individual’s potential to transmit SARS-CoV-2.2,3,9 Using the BD Veritor System for Rapid Detection of SARS-CoV-2 later flow antigen detection test, we demonstrate a higher concordance of antigen-positive test results with the presence of cultured, infectious virus when compared to RT-PCR. When compared to infectious virus isolation, the sensitivity of antigen-based testing is similar to RT-PCR. The correlation between SARS-CoV-2 antigen and SARS-CoV-2 culture represents a significant advancement in determining the risk for potential transmissibility beyond that which can be achieved by detection of SARS-CoV-2 genomic RNA. Coupled with a rapid time-to-result, low cost, and scalability, antigen-based testing should facilitate effective implementation of testing and public health interventions that will better contain COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalUnknown Journal
StatePublished - Oct 5 2020


  • Antigen testing
  • Live culture
  • RT-PCR testing
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • SARS-CoV-2 contagious
  • Viral load

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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