Hitachi, Toshiba, Miraca to set up line for antigen test kits

Credit: REUTERS/TORU HANAI

Japanese 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 coronavirus testing kits.

Adds details of the partnership, background

TOKYO, June 5 (Reuters) - Japanese industrial conglomerates Hitachi Ltd 6501.T and Toshiba Corp 6502.T, as well as Miraca Holdings 4544.T subsidiary Fujirebio, said on Friday they will jointly set up a facility to produce antigen coronavirus testing kits.

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 northern Hokkaido prefecture.

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 currently dominant polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests.

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

In a rare partnership, Hitachi will provide engineering know-how, while Toshiba will offer facilities. Fujirebio currently produces test kits at a plant in southern Japan.

The new 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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(Reporting by Makiko Yamazaki; Editing by Chris Gallagher and Stephen Coates)

((Makiko.Yamazaki@thomsonreuters.com; +81-3-4563-2805;))

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