To ramp up the COVID-19 testing, Japan is all set to approve its first antigen testing kit today to complement the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) testing. The country has reported close to 17,000 coronavirus cases with an estimated 188 PCR tests per 100,000 people, compared to 3,159 in Italy and 3,044 in Germany.
The antigen kits have been developed by Fujirebio, a subsidiary of Japanese diagnostics and laboratory testing service provider, Miraca Holdings. An antigen test ‘quickly detects fragments of proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples collected from the nasal cavity using swabs’ within a few minutes.
The Fujirebio antigen kits are palm-sized, detecting the virus in only 30 minutes compared to 4-6 hours for a PCR test, however, its accuracy is significantly less. The company is capable of producing 200,000 test kits weekly. This is the same number of tests conducted by Japan in April.
Looking at the difficulty to track the infections, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said:
We will try and get a good grasp of the infection situation with various measures such as antigen tests and antibody tests.
The United States of America and Malaysia have also approved the use of antigen kits for coronavirus detection.
Japan has also approved remdesivir as a treatment for COVID-19 as the country’s first authorized medicine whereas Fujifilm Holdings Corp’s anti-flu drug Avigan is likely to get approval from the government by the end of this month.
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