Japan Approves First COVID-19 Antigen Test Kit

TOKYO – The Japanese Health Ministry has approved an antigen test kit that can detect new coronavirus infections quickly.

The quick COVID-19 antigen test kit, called ESPLINE® SARS-CoV-2, is the first of its kind to be approved in Japan, and can provide results in 10 to 30 minutes, faster than four to six hours for polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

It was approved Wednesday after applying for approval on April 28. It can detect proteins found on or within the virus by testing samples taken from the nasal cavity using swabs.

“We will utilize the antigen test in emergency situations where we need to get results as soon as possible," Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said at a press conference.

He added that "areas in Japan with a lot of people coming back from other countries will be prioritized to receive the test."

According to product maker Fujirebio Co. Ltd., their factory in Ube City, Yamaguchi Prefecture can produce 200,000 kits per week. - Florenda Corpuz

(Photographs courtesy of Fujirebio Co. Ltd.)