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Coronavirus antigen test to be covered by public insurance

  • May 13, 2020
  • , Jiji Press , 4:02 p.m.
  • English Press

Tokyo, May 13 (Jiji Press)–An advisory panel to Japan’s health minister approved Wednesday a plan to cover antigen tests for the novel coronavirus under the public health insurance system.

 

Antigen tests are seen as a way to confirm infections swiftly. The approval was given at a general meeting of the Central Social Insurance Medical Council.

 

The official price of the test is set at 6,000 yen, including a copayment of 1,800 yen. Public funds will be used to cover copayments for the test, making it free of charge for citizens.

 

The scheme applies to tests for the purpose of diagnosing those suspected of being infected with the coronavirus.

 

Earlier that day, the ministry gave approval to an antigen test kit developed by Tokyo-based reagent maker Fujirebio Inc.

 

While antigen tests have lower accuracy than polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, tests, they can provide results more quickly, in 10 to 30 minutes.

 

The government is seeking to boost the number of tests for the coronavirus by using antigen tests alongside PCR tests, currently widely used to check infections.

 

“We hope that effective testing will move forward,” health minister Katsunobu Kato told reporters after the panel approval.

 

He also suggested that the government plans to distribute kits for some 400,000 tests to medical institutions dealing with returnees from abroad and those who have had contact with patients, as well as regional core medical institutions, on a priority basis during this month.

 

The health ministry plans to have suspected patients take PCR tests even if they test negative with antigen tests.

 

 

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