National

15-minute coronavirus test kits to be sold in Japan from next week

Kyodo, JIJI

Textile and chemical product-maker Kurabo Industries Ltd. said Thursday that from next week it will begin selling test kits developed by a Chinese firm that can detect the new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 in 15 minutes, far quicker than the current method.

The kit, which uses a small blood sample and a reagent, is expected to reduce time and costs compared to the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test currently used to detect the pneumonia-causing disease, according to the maker. PCR testing takes four to six hours after a sample is collected from a patient’s throat or other parts of the body.

Kurabo’s kit will take only 15 minutes to display a red line on a test strip after a blood sample from a suspected patient is mixed with a reagent on the strip. The red line indicates the presence of antibodies for the virus in the blood and a positive test result, the company said.

The kit was developed by the company’s business partner in China and has already been used by Chinese medical institutions.

Kurabo plans to sell the kits to research and testing institutions. One kit capable of testing 10 samples is priced at ¥25,000, excluding tax.

It will be on sale from Monday, and unlike the current PCR tests, it is also effective in detecting the virus in patients at early stages of the disease, the firm said. It aims to supply enough kits for a total capacity of 10,000 tests per day.

With the number of people being screened for the virus rising, the demand for swifter testing is also increasing — prompting research facilities and pharmaceutical companies to step up their efforts to develop new methods for diagnosis.

Precision equipment-maker Shimadzu Corp. has said it aims to develop a testing method that can detect the new virus in one hour, for release by the end of March.

Kanagawa Prefecture and the government-backed research institute Riken also said recently they had jointly developed a testing method that could determine whether an individual was infected within 30 minutes.

Coronavirus banner