Abstract

Background: Real-time and appropriate antigen tests play a pivotal role in preventing severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. However, a previous meta-analysis reported that the antigen test had lower sensitivity for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 in children. To provide a comprehensive evaluation of diagnostic efficiency, we performed an updated meta-analysis to assess the detection accuracy of SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests stratified by days after symptom onset and specimen type in children and adolescents. Methods: We comprehensively searched for appropriate studies in the PubMed, Embase, and Cochrane Library databases. Studies on the diagnostic accuracy of antigen tests for SARS-CoV-2 in children and adolescents were included. The relevant data of the included studies were extracted to construct a 2 × 2 table on a per-patient basis. The overall sensitivity and specificity of the SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests were estimated using a bivariate random-effects model. Results: Seventeen studies enrolling 10 912 patients were included in the present meta-analysis. For the detection accuracy of SARS-CoV-2 antigen tests, the meta-analysis generated a pooled sensitivity of 77.9% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 67.3%-85.8%) and a pooled specificity of 99.6% (95% CI: 98.9%-99.8%). The subgroup analysis of studies that examined antigen tests in symptomatic participants ≦7 days after symptom onset generated a pooled sensitivity of 79.4% (95% CI: 47.6%-94.2%) and a pooled specificity of 99.4% (95% CI: 98.2%-99.8%). Another subgroup analysis of studies that evaluated nasal swab specimens demonstrated a pooled sensitivity of 80.1% (95% CI: 65.0%-89.7%) and a pooled specificity of 98.5% (95% CI: 97.3%-9.2%). Conclusion: Our findings demonstrated that the antigen test performed using nasal swab specimens exhibited high sensitivity for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 within 7 days after symptom onset. Therefore, antigen testing using nasal swabs may be effective in blocking SARS-CoV-2 transmission in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)966-974
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Chinese Medical Association
Volume86
Issue number11
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Nov 1 2023

Keywords

  • Antigen test
  • COVID-19
  • Meta-analysis
  • Pediatrics
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Medicine

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