• Reuters


Industrial conglomerates Hitachi Ltd. and Toshiba Corp, as well as Miraca Holdings subsidiary Fujirebio, said on Friday they will jointly set up a facility to produce antigen-testing kits for the coronavirus.

The line would help double production of Fujirebio’s testing kits, which received government approval in May, to 400,000 a week, the companies said. It would start operations by December in Hokkaido.

Antigen tests scan for proteins found on or inside a virus. They can detect the virus quickly but produce false negatives at a higher rate than the polymerase chain reaction tests currently in use.

It takes about 30 minutes to get a result with Fujirebio’s palm-sized test kit, compared with four to six hours for a PCR test.

In a rare partnership, Hitachi will provide engineering know-how and Toshiba will offer facilities. Fujirebio is producing its test kits at a plant in southern Japan.

The novel coronavirus has infected more than 6.4 million people and killed about 380,000 around the world. Japan has had some 17,000 infections and 900 known deaths to date.

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