BMJ Open 11 (10) e050296 [2021-10-18; online 2021-10-18]
Accurate and affordable laboratory testing is key to timely diagnosis and appropriate management of patients with COVID-19. New laboratory test protocols are released into the market under emergency use authorisation with limited evidence on diagnostic test accuracy. As such, robust evidence on the diagnostic accuracy and the costs of available tests is urgently needed to inform policy and practice especially in resource-limited settings. We aim to determine the diagnostic test accuracy, cost-effectiveness and utility of laboratory test strategies for COVID-19 in low-income and middle-income countries. This will be a multistaged, protocol-driven systematic review conducted in line with the Preferred Reporting Items for Systematic Reviews and Meta-Analyses (PRISMA) guidelines for diagnostic test accuracy studies. We will search for relevant literature in at least six public health databases, including PubMed, Google Scholar, MEDLINE, Scopus, Web of Science and the WHO Global Index Medicus. In addition, we will search Cochrane Library, COVID-END and grey literature databases to identify additional relevant articles before double-screening and abstraction of data. We will conduct a structured narrative and quantitative synthesis of the results guided by the Fryback and Thornbury framework for assessing a diagnostic test. The primary outcome is COVID-19 diagnostic test accuracy. Using the GRADE approach specific to diagnostic accuracy tests, we will appraise the overall quality of evidence and report the results following the original PRISMA statement. The protocol is registered with the International Prospective Register of Systematic Reviews (PROSPERO; https://www.crd.york.ac.uk/prospero/). Ethical review was done by the School of Biomedical Sciences Research Ethics Committee and the Uganda National Council for Science and Technology. The published article will be accessible to policy and decision makers. The findings of this review will guide clinical practice and policy decisions and highlight areas for future research.PROSPERO registration number CRD42020209528.