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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to the commercialization of many antigen-based rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs), requiring independent evaluations. This report describes the clinical evaluation of the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV Antigen Test (Colloidal Gold) (Beijing Hotgen Biotech Co., Ltd.), at two sites within Brazil and one in the United Kingdom. The collected samples (446 nasal swabs from Brazil and 246 nasopharyngeal samples from the UK) were analyzed by the Ag-RDT and compared to reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). Analytical evaluation of the Ag-RDT was performed using direct culture supernatants of SARS-CoV-2 strains from the wild-type (B.1), Alpha (B.1.1.7), Delta (B.1.617.2), Gamma (P.1), and Omicron (B.1.1.529) lineages. An overall sensitivity and specificity of 88.2% (95% confidence interval [CI], 81.3 to 93.3) and 100.0% (95% CI, 99.1 to 100.0), respectively, were obtained for the Brazilian and UK cohorts. The analytical limit of detection was determined as 1.0 × 103 PFU/mL (Alpha), 2.5 × 102 PFU/mL (Delta), 2.5 × 103 PFU/mL (Gamma), and 1.0 × 103 PFU/mL (Omicron), giving a viral copy equivalent of approximately 2.1 × 104 copies/mL, 9.0 × 105 copies/mL, 1.7 × 106 copies/mL, and 1.8 × 105 copies/mL for the Ag-RDT, respectively. Overall, while a higher sensitivity was claimed by the manufacturers than that found in this study, this evaluation finds that the Ag-RDT meets the WHO minimum performance requirements for sensitivity and specificity of COVID-19 Ag-RDTs. This study illustrates the comparative performance of the Hotgen Ag-RDT across two global settings and considers the different approaches in evaluation methods. IMPORTANCE Since the beginning of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, we have witnessed growing numbers of antigen rapid diagnostic tests (Ag-RDTs) being brought to market. In the United Kingdom, this was somewhat controlled indirectly as the government offered free tests from a small number of companies. However, as this has now ceased, individuals are responsible for their own acquisition of test kits. Similarly in Brazil, as of January 2022, pharmacies and other health care retailers are permitted to sell Ag-RDTs directly to the community. Many of these Ag-RDTs have not been externally evaluated, and results are not readily available to the public. Thus, there is now a need for a transparent evaluation of Ag-RDTs with both analytical and clinical evaluation. We present an independent review of the Novel Coronavirus 2019-nCoV Antigen Test (Colloidal Gold) (Beijing Hotgen Biotech Co., Ltd.), at two sites within Brazil and one in the United Kingdom.

Original publication




Journal article


Microbiol Spectr

Publication Date



Ag-RDT, COVID-19, LFA, SARS-CoV-2, diagnostics