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Japan to start coronavirus antibody testing

May 23. 2020
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By The Japan News/ANN

Antibody tests for the new coronavirus will be available in Tokyo, Osaka and Miyagi prefectures from early June, with thousands to be examined.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry stated on Friday that, in cooperation with the aforementioned prefectures, it will start a survey of 10,000 people to determine whether they have been infected with the new coronavirus.

The ministry will analyze the percentage of people who have been infected with the virus, including those who do not have symptoms, and use the data for future measures.

Under the project, about 3,000 men and women aged 20 or older, who will be randomly selected from the three prefectures, will be tested for antibodies above a certain level. The ministry will also use anonymized data to estimate infection rates in each municipality. The respective local governments will decide whether to notify the survey participants of the results.

There is, however, a problem with the accuracy of these tests, because in some cases, antibody tests read as positive when they are actually negative. Considering this, leading-edge technology will be utilized to improve the tests’ accuracy.

“The aim is to confirm the state of immunity of the whole society. We would like to use this information for the measures to prevent the spread of infection in the future.” Katsunobu Kato, health, labor and welfare minister, said at a news conference on Friday.

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