The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (MEXT) has started a study to assess Japanese universities’ capabilities for PCR testing for the new coronavirus. Many research programs possess PCR test machines, and researchers have pointed out that utilizing this resource would dramatically increase Japan’s testing capacity. PCR tests are regularly performed in research projects that involve plants and microbes. To use the machines for diagnostic purposes requires approval from and registration with the relevant local government.
MEXT sent a questionnaire on May 11 to approximately 1,000 public and private universities and research institutions, asking such questions as the maximum possible number of tests they could perform per day. The institutions have been asked to complete and return the questionnaire by May 14.