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MHLW to approve antigen test kit on Wednesday

  • May 12, 2020
  • , NHK
  • JMH Summary

NHK reported that the MHLW will approve on May 13 an antigen test kit that can detect COVID-19 infection in a short period of time, saying that the kit is expected to be used mainly at specialized clinics in areas where there are many confirmed cases of COVID-19. The network said the antigen test is a simple way to check whether a person has been infected with the new coronavirus, adding that it does not require any special skills like the PCR test does and can deliver results in about 30 minutes. The network said the MHLW is expected to allow the antigen test to be covered by health insurance and to be swiftly put to practical use. The network noted, however, that the antigen test will only be conducted at medical institutions that are already conducting PCR testing as there is a risk of infection when administering tests. According to an MHLW source, the test kit will be used in areas with high numbers of coronavirus cases, such as Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Hokkaido. Noting that the antigen test is less accurate than the PCR test, the network said some people may test negative even if they are infected, adding that the MHLW is therefore planning to have those who test negative undergo PCR testing as well. The manufacturer of the test kit, Fujirebio, is expected to be able to produce about 200,000 units per week.

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