Helsinki University researchers help develop Covid-19 antibody test

The test will be able to tell who has had the virus already, how far it's spread, and who has built up immunity.

File picture of coronavirus blood sample / Credit: iStock

Researchers at the University of Helsinki, working in collaboration with scientists in America, have helped develop an antibody test for the novel coronavirus.

The test will be able to tell who has already had Covid-19 by detecting antibodies in blood samples that the immune system might have already made to fight against the virus.

“The other tests that are now in use they basically show the presence of the virus, but the antibody tests tell that you have seen the virus, or something similar, at some point” says Jussi Hepojoki, a Docent in Virology at the University of Helsinki, who worked on the project.

It’s an important development, as it means healthcare workers who have already built up some immunity could treat patients safely.

“Based on the other coronaviruses, it would be kind of safe to assume [that getting it] gives a 1-3 year immunity against the virus. You wouldn’t get it again right away. But it does depend on the individuals how long the immunity lasts, like some vaccines need boosters” Hepojoki tells News Now Finland.

The antibody test will also be able to help researchers track and trace the spread of the virus around the world.

“We can then monitor how many people have actually had the diseases, and we can do population screenings to see how the virus was spread and evaluate what number of cases were severe, and so on” says Hepojoki.

There’s not likely to be a long process of trials before the antibody test can be put in use, and Jussi Hepojoki thinks it will be available soon to start testing people locally in Finland.