Japan‘s health ministry on Monday started coronavirus antibody tests, with the ministry planning to conduct the tests on about 10,000 people in Tokyo, Osaka, and the northeastern prefecture of Miyagi by the end of June.
The ministry needs the data to try and better understand the spread of the infection, as it faces a possible second wave of infections following the nationwide state of emergency being completely lifted last week.
The large-scale test of antibodies will enable health officials to be able to gain a better understanding of how much of Japan’s population has been infected by the coronavirus.
The tests, which provide indicators on unique proteins made by a person’s immune system after they have been infected with the virus, will also help authorities better understand how many people will require vaccinating once one becomes available, as well as an idea of the severity of the situation should further waves of the pandemic hit Japan.
The tests will also help to determine the level or possibility of Japan’s “herd immunity,” which is achieved when a large percentage of the population develops antibodies and potential immunity to a virus.
The antibody tests use blood samples and produce results faster that polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.
Some experts have voiced concern, however, that some of the trial antibody tests conducted here as well as overseas have produced inaccurate results.
In April, the health ministry screened for antibodies in experimental tests with donor blood from Tokyo and six prefectures in northeastern Japan.
The ministry at the time used test kits from five firms to conduct the provisional experiments.
With restrictions now largely eased for the entire nation, yet concerns over recent spikes in cases after the state of emergency was lifted in both Tokyo and Fukuoka prefectures continuing, the health ministry said Thursday evening 16 new infections had been detected in Fukuoka’s Kitakyushu City, while Tokyo had confirmed 13 new infections. The nationwide total came to 37 new COVID-19 cases, with the death toll standing at a total off 911 people.
Tokyo’s accumulative infection total comes to 5,249 people, Osaka’s 1,783, while Fukuoka has confirmed a total of 774 COVID-19 cases, Thursday evening’s figures showed.