Japan to test 10,000 people for coronavirus antibodies
Japan Today -- May 16
Japan will test around 10,000 people for coronavirus antibodies starting from next month, as part of efforts to better understand the deadly infection, health minister Katsunobu Kato said Friday.

The tests, which look for specific proteins made by the immune system in response to the infection, will likely take in place in Tokyo and Osaka, among other prefectures, officials said. Potential areas include those that have reported a relatively high number of infections and those with fewer cases.

Testing is expected to help authorities grasp the extent to which the virus has spread in those regions, how many people will need a vaccination when one becomes available, and the outlook for infection numbers should there be a second wave.

It will also help determine whether Japan is on the way to herd immunity, achieved when a large portion of the population develops antibodies and protection from infection.

The tests use a blood sample and take less time than the currently dominant polymerase chain reaction test, which uses a swab from a patient's nose and requires a minimum of several hours to produce a result.

In the upcoming tests, the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare plans to use several methods to find antibodies and figure out the amount of antibodies in specimens, the officials said.

The tests come after the ministry last month conducted experimental screening for antibodies in donated blood in Tokyo and six prefectures in northeastern Japan, using test kits from five firms.

It found 0.6 percent of 500 samples from Tokyo had antibodies for coronavirus and 0.4 percent in the same number of samples from Aomori, Akita, Iwate, Miyagi, Yamagata and Fukushima.

But experts noted some of the test kits could have provided false results. In the screening, two samples of blood donated last year -- before coronavirus was confirmed in Japan -- tested positive for antibodies.

News source: Japan Today
Jun 01
Japan's government is asking people to continue taking preventative measures against the coronavirus after a renewed surge in cases in the southwestern city of Kitakyushu. (NHK)
Jun 01
The government of Tokyo confirmed five COVID-19 infections Sunday — the first time in six days the daily figure came in at under 10. (Japan Times)
Jun 01
People in Japan enjoyed outside activities on Saturday and Sunday, as the country marked the first weekend since its state of emergency over the COVID-19 epidemic was fully lifted on May 25. (Japan Times)
May 31
After weeks of staying home during Japan's coronavirus state of emergency, Matsuko Higuchi just wanted to have her hair styled. (Nikkei)
May 30
The Air Self-Defense Force’s Blue Impulse acrobatics team on Friday performed a flyover over central Tokyo in a show of respect to doctors and medical staff who have been at the forefront of the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. (Japan Times)
May 29
At the beginning of April, a young sumo wrestler known as Shobushi came down with a fever. His coaches tried calling a local public health center to get him a coronavirus test, but the phone lines were busy. (Japan Times)
May 29
NHK has learned that Tokyo Tower will reopen from Thursday, although most visitors will have to take the stairs instead of elevators to access the observation deck. (NHK)
May 29
Police investigators say the arsonist of a Kyoto Animation studio last year has told them that he had thought his attack had left only a couple of people dead. (NHK)
May 29
Nissan Motor has posted its first net loss in 11 years in the business year through March, amounting to more than 670 billion yen, or 6.2 billion dollars. (NHK)
May 28
Mobile phone data shows there was only a slight increase in the number of people around train stations and business streets in Tokyo and four other prefectures the day after the state of emergency was lifted. (NHK)