Coronavirus antibody tests at Mehiläinen
Coronavirus antibody testing is available by doctor’s referral on an experimental basis at selected Mehiläinen clinics. We always confirm positive antibody test results with a supplementary method that improves the reliability of the results.
However, immunity against a new infection, or the duration of the immunity, cannot be directly assessed on the basis of the test. The purpose of the antibody test is to support other diagnostic methods used by doctors. COVID-19 antibody tests are available with a doctor’s referral at all Mehiläinen laboratories. The primary COVID-19 test performed on patients with symptoms is the analysis of a nasal cavity sample.
What are antibodies?
When foreign microbes, such as viruses or bacteria, invade the body, they trigger a defensive reaction. White blood cells, the human body's first line of defence, start to produce antibodies which bind to the invading organism and activate the entire defence system broadly to destroy the virus. If the same virus tries to enter the human body again, the defensive cells remember it and the defensive reaction is quicker. Immunity is achieved when a sufficient level of antibodies is present in the blood. This enables the defensive reaction to start rapidly and the same virus cannot make the individual ill again.
What does the antibody test indicate?
It may take weeks for the body to produce measurable quantities of antibodies in the blood. As for the COVID-19 disease caused by the coronavirus, it has been found that the body starts to produce antibodies as early as a couple of days after the first symptoms appear. However, as the process varies greatly between individuals, the antibody test should only be performed after at least 14 days have passed from the onset of symptoms.
Even if the patient has contracted the virus, the antibody test result may be negative if it is performed too soon, or the body has not yet produced measurable quantities of antibodies. At the active, infectious stage of the illness, the best test method is to diagnose the virus from a sample taken from the patient’s nasal cavity. If symptoms persist, the test taken from a sample of the mucous membranes in the nasal cavity can become unreliable, but antibodies may give an indication of the viral infection. After an infection, the antibodies are likely to be present for months, maybe years, but this is not yet known in the case of the new coronavirus.
How and when is an antibody test performed?
Mehiläinen offers a combination testing for IgG, IgA and IgM antibodies analysed from a venous blood sample which is taken from the patient’s ulnar vein at our central laboratory, and the result is available in approximately 1–3 days. The reported sensitivity of the test is 100% and specificity 99.8%.
Antibody tests can be used as part of an assessment by a doctor to support the diagnosis of persistent respiratory tract infections, suspected to be caused by the coronavirus, when at least 14 days have passed since the onset of the symptoms. All positive antibody test results of patients experiencing respiratory tract symptoms are confirmed by testing a sample taken from the nasal cavity in order to exclude a coronavirus infection at the infectious stage.
Price and results of antibody test
A doctor always decides whether an antibody test is suitable, and a doctor’s referral is always required for the test. The test cannot be performed without a referral. You can be referred to the antibody test through Digital Clinic. Start a chat on the COVID-19 suspicion channel. The price of a Digital Clinic appointment is EUR 39.90 (EUR 31.90 with the Kela reimbursement).
The price of an antibody test is EUR 92 (EUR 77 after Kela reimbursement)
The result of the antibody test will be sent to you in OmaMehiläinen .
Where is antibody testing done?
Antibody tests are performed at the laboratories of all the Mehiläinen medical clinics. Do not come to the laboratory if you currently have symptoms.
Page last updated: 17 November 2020.