Head-to-head comparison of diagnostic accuracy of four Ebola virus disease rapid diagnostic tests versus GeneXpert® in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo outbreaks: a prospective observational study

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BACKGROUND: Ebola virus disease (EVD) outbreaks have emerged in Central and West Africa. EVD diagnosis relies principally on RT-PCR testing with GeneXpert®, which has logistical and cost restrictions at the peripheral level of the health system. Rapid diagnostic tests (RDTs) would offer a valuable alternative at the point-of-care to reduce the turn-around time, if they show good performance characteristics. We evaluated the performance of four EVD RDTs against the reference standard GeneXpert® on stored EVD positive and negative blood samples collected between 2018 and 2021 from outbreaks in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

METHODS: We conducted a prospective and observational study in the laboratory on QuickNavi-Ebola™, OraQuick® Ebola Rapid Antigen, Coris® EBOLA Ag K-SeT, and Standard® Q Ebola Zaïre Ag RDTs using left-over archived frozen EDTA whole blood samples. We randomly selected 450 positive and 450 negative samples from the EVD biorepositories in DRC, across a range of GeneXpert® cycle threshold values (Ct-values). RDT results were read by three persons and we considered an RDT result as "positive", when it was flagged as positive by at least two out of the three readers. We estimated the sensitivity and specificity through two independent generalized (logistic) linear mixed models (GLMM).

FINDINGS: 476 (53%) of 900 samples had a positive GeneXpert Ebola result when retested. The QuickNavi-Ebola™ showed a sensitivity of 56.8% (95% CI 53.6-60.0) and a specificity of 97.5% (95% CI 96.2-98.4), the OraQuick® Ebola Rapid Antigen test displayed 61.6% (95% CI 57.0-65.9) sensitivity and 98.1% (95% CI 96.2-99.1) specificity, the Coris® EBOLA Ag K-SeT showed 25.0% (95% CI 22.3-27.9) sensitivity and 95.9% (95% CI 94.2-97.1) specificity, and the Standard® Q Ebola Zaïre Ag displayed 21.6% (95% CI 18.1-25.7) sensitivity and 99.1% (95% CI 97.4-99.7) specificity.

INTERPRETATION: None of the RDTs evaluated approached the "desired or acceptable levels" for sensitivity set out in the WHO target product profile, while all of the tests met the "desired level" for specificity. Nevertheless, the QuickNavi-Ebola™ and OraQuick® Ebola Rapid Antigen Test demonstrated the most favorable profiles, and may be used as frontline tests for triage of suspected-cases while waiting for RT-qPCR confirmatory testing.

FUNDING: Institute of Tropical Medicine Antwerp/EDCTP PEAU-EBOV-RDC project.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)104568
Number of pages10
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • Democratic Republic of the Congo/epidemiology
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Ebolavirus/genetics
  • Hemorrhagic Fever, Ebola/diagnosis
  • Humans
  • Prospective Studies
  • Rapid Diagnostic Tests
  • Sensitivity and Specificity

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