Rapid antibody-based covid-19 mass surveillance: relevance, challenges, and prospects in a pandemic and post-pandemic world

Robin Augustine, Suvarthi Das, Anwarul Hasan, S. Abhilash, Shaheen Abdul Salam, Priya Augustine, Yogesh Bharat Dalvi, Ruby Varghese, Rosita Primavera, Hadi Mohamad Yassine, Avnesh S. Thakor, Bhavesh D. Kevadiya

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


The aggressive outbreak of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) as COVID-19 (coronavirus disease-2019) pandemic demands rapid and simplified testing tools for its effective management. Increased mass testing and surveillance are crucial for controlling the disease spread, obtaining better pandemic statistics, and developing realistic epidemiological models. Despite the advantages of nucleic acid-and antigen-based tests such as accuracy, specificity, and non-invasive approaches of sample collection, they can only detect active infections. Antibodies (immunoglobulins) are produced by the host immune system within a few days after infection and persist in the blood for at least several weeks after infection resolution. Antibody-based tests have provided a substitute and effective method of ultra-rapid detection for multiple contagious disease outbreaks in the past, including viral diseases such as SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) and MERS (Middle East respiratory syndrome). Thus, although not highly suitable for early diagnosis, antibody-based methods can be utilized to detect past infections hidden in the population, including asymptomatic ones. In an active community spread scenario of a disease that can provide a bigger window for mass detections and a practical approach for continuous surveillance. These factors encouraged researchers to investigate means of improving antibody-based rapid tests and employ them as reliable, reproducible, sensitive, specific, and economic tools for COVID-19 mass testing and surveillance. The development and integration of such immunoglobulin-based tests can transform the pandemic diagnosis by moving the same out of the clinics and laboratories into community testing sites and homes. This review discusses the principle, technology, and strategies being used in antibody-based testing at present. It also underlines the immense prospect of immunoglobulin-based testing and the efficacy of repeated planned deployment in pandemic management and post-pandemic sustainable screenings globally.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number3372
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
JournalJournal of Clinical Medicine
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2020


  • Antibody
  • COVID-19
  • Immunoglobulin
  • PoCT
  • Point of Care Test
  • Population surveillance
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine


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