Japan's health ministry announced Friday plans to begin conducting 10,000 antibody tests on residents of Tokyo, Osaka and northeastern Miyagi prefecture to better understand how the coronavirus spreads.
In a remote news briefing, Health Minister Kato Katsunobu told reporters the samplings from Tokyo and Osaka, where there were many confirmed cases, and Miyagi, where there were few, are expected to shed light on the antibody prevalence for the general population.
The existence of antibodies in the blood indicates if the person has been infected or exposed to COVID-19. It may also shed light on those who had the virus but showed no symptoms.
The tests will be conducted starting in June on about 3,000 randomly selected adults in each prefecture. Officials will take their blood samples after obtaining consent.
The health ministry hopes to utilize the test results to help prevent future infections.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control says it typically takes one to three weeks for a person infected with the coronavirus to develop antibodies.