Tokyo, May 13: The Japanese government on Wednesday approved the use of testing kits that can detect the novel coronavirus antigens as quickly as 15 to 30 minutes. Through the introduction of these new kits the administration aims to make the testing process simpler, faster and test more people. This antigen test detects proteins unique to the virus and unlike the PCR test, it does not need to be conducted at a laboratory. This test is done by inserting swabs into a patient's nostrils and get the results on site.
However, the antigen test is believed to have lower sensitivity to the virus compared to the PCR test therefore people who have negative results will also be required to undergo PCR tests so as to ensure accuracy. The antigen testing method is likely to be used to test those who need immediate treatment, and for checking infections within medical institutions and nursing homes.
The polymerase chain reaction, or PCR test, which is currently the most commonly used test requires at least a few hours before the results could be obtained. At times the person needs to wait for a week before getting the result. Fujirebio Inc., the company which produces the new test kits has claimed that it can supply 200,000 kits a week and would expand its output if there is more demand. (UNI)