Health Ministry to approve online sale of coronavirus antigen test kits

Japan’s health ministry has decided to approve online sales of coronavirus antigen test kits if they meet certain conditions such as their accuracy is comparable to government-approved products.

The products have been allowed to be sold in pharmacies since the end of last year, as a special measure, on the condition that pharmacists explain how to use them to buyers.

Experts have advocated that a system be put in place so that people can still acquire affordable kits.

They say this is because the need for proof of a negative virus test result is expected to increase, if economic and social activities resume.

They also noted that the latest wave of COVID-19 infections in Japan has flooded medical institutions with patients and made it difficult to screen people.

The ministry’s expert group met on Wednesday and approved the sale of antigen test kits online as a special measure.

At the meeting, some panel members said buyers would need detailed explanations, such as how to perform the test correctly or what to do if the result is positive. Others said stocks should be managed so that medical institutions have priority in procuring test kits.

The ministry plans to discuss whether consumers will demand explanations from pharmacists. The authorities have already drawn up guidelines for manufacturers, retailers and consumers. Online sales of the test kits are expected to begin earlier this month.

Maria J. Book