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Pharmaceuticals

First antigen test to be approved for Japan as soon as next week

Japanese company Miraca Holdings looks to start producing 200,000 tests per week

Miraca Holdings is set to be the first company to offer antigen test kits for the novel coronavirus in Japan. (Nikkei Montage/Reuters)

TOKYO -- Japanese medical diagnostics company Miraca Holdings is set to be the first to provide antigen test kits for the novel coronavirus in Japan, Nikkei has learned, expecting to receive necessary approval from the country's health ministry as early as next week.

Miraca is planning to start producing equipment for 200,000 tests per week from the middle of May at its factory in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

While PCR testing, which is currently the primary method for determining COVID-19 infections, takes hours to get results, antigen testing requires only about 10 or 15 minutes.

Since Japan's testing numbers are noticeably lower than in many other countries, experts hope that antigen tests can complement PCR ones. Approval for testing kits usually takes several months, but processes will be speeded up this time.

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and the Japan Medical Association are pushing for the introduction of antigen testing, which detects virus proteins from mucus taken from the nose and is the method used for determining flu infections.

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