January 28, 2021

Japan to approve its first antigen coronavirus test kits

Japan plans to approve its first coronavirus antigen testing kits on Wednesday, a health ministry official said, in a move to boost the number of diagnostic tests available to battle the pandemic.

Fujirebio, a subsidiary of Japanese diagnostics and laboratory testing service provider Miraca Holdings, last month applied for government approval for its antigen kit.

Antigen tests scan for proteins that can be found on or inside a virus. They typically test a sample taken from a nasal cavity using swabs. The tests can detect the virus quickly but produce false negatives at a higher rate than the currently dominant PCR, or polymerase chain reaction, tests.

Japanese Health Minister Katsunobu Kato said that antigen tests, once approved, will likely be used to supplement PCR tests.

Japan has reported about 16,680 confirmed infections, including 712 from the cruise ship previously quarantined in Yokohama, and 670 deaths to date, public broadcaster NHK said.

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