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Nasal swab is a good alternative sample for detecting SARS-CoV-2 with rapid antigen test: A meta-analysis.

BACKGROUND: We aim to determine if nasal samples have equivalent detection sensitivity to nasopharyngeal swabs for RAT and evaluate the diagnostic accuracy of nasal swabs with RAT.

METHODS: PubMed and Web of Science were searched for eligible studies published before August 23, 2022. A bivariate random effects model was used to perform the quantitative synthesis.

RESULTS: The pooled sensitivity, pooled specificity, positive likelihood ratio, negative likelihood ratio, and summary AUC on nasal swabs with RAT were 0.81 (95% CI, 0.77-0.85), 1.00 (95% CI: 0.99-1.00), 0.97 (95% CI, 0.95-0.98), 298.91 (95% CI, 144.71-617.42) and 0.19 (95% CI, 0.15-0.23), respectively. WHO required RAT kits to perform with a sensitivity of 0.80 and a specificity of 0.97, nasal swabs (0.81) achieved the required sensitivity while nasopharyngeal swabs (0.75) did not. The symptomatic population yielded higher pooled sensitivity than the asymptomatic population (0.86 versus 0.71), with a pooled sensitivity of 0.90 for five days of symptom onset.

CONCLUSION: Nasal sampling had a great performance and yielded a high sensitivity in detecting SARS-CoV-2 using RAT, we believe that RAT performed with nasal swabs is a good alternative for detecting SARS-CoV-2, especially early in the onset of symptoms.

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