Expert panel in Japan debates saliva antigen tests for people with no COVID symptoms

Yomiuri Shimbun file photo
Building that houses the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry in Chiyoda Ward, Tokyo

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry proposed to an expert panel Monday that saliva antigen tests be approved to test people with no symptoms of coronavirus. This move is intended to help prevent cluster infections at medical institutions and facilities for elderly people in areas with a large number of infections, by widely testing staffers and others to quickly detect infections.

Antigen tests are convenient as they return results in tens of minutes. However, nasal swabs can cause discomfort, placing a burden on test-takers.

At a meeting of the panel Monday, a manufacturer submitted a report on 100 tests that it had carried out. However, some panel members said the report lacked sufficient data, so the issue will be further discussed.