Nikkei reported that the prefectural governments of Okinawa and Tokyo plan to conduct COVID-19 antibody tests on certain people in May and June, respectively, in the hope of ascertaining the state of infection among the general public and using the results to judge whether or not full-fledged resumption of local economies is possible. Although the accuracy of antibody test kits is inferior to PCR diagnostic testing, the daily said some public health experts still emphasize the importance of conducting such tests repeatedly in preparation for the “second wave” of infection in the autumn or beyond that many virologists are predicting.
Meanwhile, Yomiuri and Mainichi wrote that the first batch of some 400,000 coronavirus antigen test kits will be used at designated hospitals for outpatients in Hokkaido, Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Okinawa this month. As nearly 800,000 kits will become available per month in June or later, they will be eventually be administered to patients suspected of having the virus in other prefectures. The antigen tests will reportedly be covered under public health insurance. Asahi said the Health Ministry issued yesterday an advisory recommending antigen tests only be administered to those with fever or other symptoms because tests of asymptomatic patients may produce false negatives on account of the test kits’ low accuracy compared with PCR testing.