A Fujifilm Corp. unit on Friday began marketing a chemical to speed up tests for the coronavirus.
Fujifilm Wako Pure Chemical Corp.’s reagent will allow its automated testing machines, which can detect tuberculosis and other diseases, to complete polymerase chain reaction tests for the virus in around 75 minutes instead of four to six hours via existing methods.
The automated machines, which are are present in dozens of hospitals and medical facilities, require less work and can check four samples at one time.
“The time required for testing will be minimized, thus reducing the risks of infections,” Fujifilm Wako Pure Chemical, based in Osaka, said in a statement.
“As the PCR testing process is simplified and can be conducted without expert inspectors, it will reduce the burden on inspectors and contribute to faster testing at a wide range of medical institutions,” it said.
PCR testing has been very low in Japan due to a lack of human resources and preparation. The government is hoping to increase its capacity to 20,000 tests a day.
According to data disclosed by a government panel, Japan is performing 188 PCR tests per 100,000 people, while other countries have rates of over 1,000.
Concerns have also been raised that testing reagents might be in short supoply because of surging demand caused by the pandemic.
The health ministry has asked testing facilities across the country to use reagents from multiple producers instead of depending on one or two recommended foreign suppliers, medical experts and industry sources said earlier.
Your news needs your support
Since the early stages of the COVID-19 crisis, The Japan Times has been providing free access to crucial news on the impact of the novel coronavirus as well as practical information about how to cope with the pandemic. Please consider subscribing today so we can continue offering you up-to-date, in-depth news about Japan.