Dried blood spots are a valid alternative to venipuncture for COVID-19 antibody testing.

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Journal of immunological methods


BACKGROUND: Serologic analysis is an important tool towards assessing the humoral response to COVID-19 infection and vaccination. Numerous serologic tests and platforms are currently available to support this line of testing. Two broad antibody testing categories are point-of-care lateral flow immunoassays and semi-quantitative immunoassays performed in clinical laboratories, which typically require blood collected from a finger-stick and a standard venipuncture blood draw, respectively. This study evaluated the use of dried blood spot (DBS) collections as a sample source for COVID-19 antibody testing using an automated clinical laboratory test system.

METHODS: Two hundred and ninety-four participants in the BLAST COVID-19 seroprevalence study (NCT04349202) were recruited at the time of a scheduled blood draw to have an additional sample taken via finger stick as a DBS collection. Using the EUROIMMUN assay to assess SARS-CoV-2 anti-spike IgG status, DBS specimens were tested on 7, 14, 21, and 28 days post- collection and compared to the reference serum sample obtained from a blood draw for the BLAST COVID-19 study.

RESULTS: SARS-CoV-2 anti-spike IgG status from DBS collections demonstrated high concordance with serum across all time points (7-28 days). However, the semi-quantitative value from DBS collections was lower on average than that from serum, resulting in increased uncertainty around the equivocal-to-positive analytical decision point.

CONCLUSIONS: DBS collections can be substituted for venipuncture when assaying for COVID-19 IgG antibody, with samples being stable for at least 28 days at room temperature. Finger-stick sampling can therefore be advantageous for testing large populations for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies without the need for phlebotomists or immediate processing of samples. We have high confidence in serostaus determination from DBS collections, although the reduced semi-quantitative value may cause some low-level positives to fall into the equivocal or even negative range.



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