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According to Public Health England (PHE), Siemens Healthineers’ COVID-19 test outperformed rival tests in a head-to-head comparison conducted by the public health agency.

PHE said that, in a comparison also featuring tests from Abbott, DiaSorin and Roche, Siemens’ SARS-CoV-2 Total was the only one to meet requirement criteria for sensitivity and specificity (the ability of the test to avoid false negatives or positives). The tests offered by the three competitors each fell short of sensitivity criteria.

In the comparison, conducted by PHE in collaboration with the University of Oxford, immunoassays from the different tests were used to analyse 536 samples taken from adults with lab-confirmed infections over 20 days after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms, along with 994 specimens collected between 2015-18.

The DiaSorin test, at 98.6 per cent, delivered the lowest specificity, with the others achieving between 99.8 and 99.9 per cent. All tests cleared the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) threshold of 98 per cent.

In sensitivity, however, Siemens’ was the only test to pass the 98 per cent threshold, registering 98.1 per cent. Abbott achieved 92.7 per cent, DiaSorin 95.0 per cent and Roche 97.2 per cent.

However, despite Siemens’ being the only test to meet both targets, the others could still be useful, as some health authorities have focused on specificity as being particularly useful. This is due to it cutting the risk of false positives, which can lead to patients erroneously believing themselves immune to coronavirus.

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