Japan’s Shimdazu Corporation Begins Sale of Coronavirus Surface Test Kits

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Photograph of the southeast side view of Shimadzu Corporation E1 Building (headquarters) in Nakagyo-ku, Kyoto, Kyoto Prefecture, Japan.

Japan’s Shimdazu Corporation began the sale of test kits for the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus on Monday, according to Kyodo News. The company boasts these testing kits are a first of their kind in the world, designed exclusively to test surfaces and objects. 

The company says the testing kit can identify the virus in about 100 minutes, and intends to sell to medical facilities, nursing homes, and food manufacturers as part of their Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) response.

The company’s English website describes their testing system as based on their proprietary Ampdirect technology designed around detection guidelines from the Japanese National Institute of Infectious Diseases, “This technology works to prevent proteins, polysaccharides, etc. contained in the biological sample from inhibiting PCR, allowing the PCR reaction solution to be added directly to the biological sample without the need for extracting and purifying DNA or RNA.”

In the fine print, the company disclaims, “Positive results are indicative of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 RNA; clinical correlation with patient history and other diagnostic information is necessary to determine patient infection status. Positive results do not rule out bacterial infection or co-infection with other viruses. The agent detected may not be the definite cause of disease.”

Shimdazu boasts their testing kit allows PCR testing to occur simply through utilizing heat, saline solution, and their reagent solutions with a cotton swab that has been in contact with a surface or an object.

Shimdazu says their testing kit can allow for PCR testing without complicated DNA or RNA extraction
Shimdazu says their testing kit can allow for PCR testing without complicated DNA or RNA extraction (Source: Stockphotokun on Flickr CC 2.0)

The company notes that professional equipment such as a PCR device and a small centrifuge are still required, so they do not have plans to sell the kit to the public at retail outlets like pharmacies or drug stores. 

Each kit can conduct approximately 100 tests and costs 305,000 Yen, or around $2,800 USD. The company hopes to sell 1000 kits annually.

According to a press release, Shimdazu will begin to sell internationally to Singapore and will target other southeast Asian markets beginning in early February.

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