TOKYO, May 18 (Reuters) - A unit of Japan's Fujifilm
Holdings Corp said on Tuesday it can develop detection
kits for new variants of the coronavirus in about a month,
responding to concerns over the spread of more infectious
strains of the virus.
Fujifilm Wako Pure Chemical Corp developed a kit that can
identify the L452R variant, first identified in India and
California and recently discovered in Tokyo. That adds to kits
that can detect two other strains of the virus used by public
health authorities as early warning systems for infection
"It's very important to control the mutant strains in the
early stages of their spread," Kuniaki Okamoto, general manager
of the company's life sciences operations, told Reuters in an
Much of Japan is under a state of emergency as a fourth wave
of COVID-19 assails the country with about two months to go
until the planned opening of the Tokyo Olympics.
Western Japan has been particularly hard hit from a
more-infectious strain first discovered in Britain, while Tokyo
Governor Yuriko Koike sounded alarm last week about the
discovery of the Indian variant in the capital.
Fujifilm Wako's kit uses reagent chemicals to detect
mutations in the SARS-CoV-2 virus and can deliver results in
about 100 minutes. The company is focusing on the Japanese
market and will look to export the kits depending on demand and
regulatory requirements in other countries, Okamoto said.
Known mainly for its camera and office solutions businesses,
Fujifilm's push into healthcare has become all the more apparent
amid the pandemic. In addition to developing testing kits, the
company is carrying out trials of its antiviral drug Avigan as a
The company has also invested heavily in Europe and the
United States to expand factories involved in making ingredients
for vaccines and drugs.
(Reporting by Hideto Sakai and Rocky Swift; Editing by Kirsten