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S. Korea exports of antibody test kits increase for second consecutive month

A man goes through a COVID-19 test at a testing site in central Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)
A man goes through a COVID-19 test at a testing site in central Seoul, Thursday. (Yonhap)

South Korea‘s exports of antibody test kits increased for two consecutive months this spring, according to the Korea Customs Service’s data, Friday.

Exports of COVID-19 test kits, however, are expected to decrease in the future due to international vaccination efforts, local industry sources alerted.
The country‘s exports of antibody test kits in June marked $353.3 million, up 12.7 percent from $313.5 million in May, according to the data.

South Korea’s exports of real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction tests decreased to $142.7 million in June, down from 147.3 million in May.

The industry sources said the increased exports of antibody test kits are backed by the ongoing demand for test kits that are capable of measuring the body’s immune response and determining whether a person’s body produced an antibody response to infection.

Antibody test kits are now more widely used than RT-PCR as they can give results within 10 minutes without other test equipment, the sources added.

The global market for COVID-19 testing kits will, however, gradually shrink down the road, local industry sources anticipated.

”Sales of COVID-19 test kits have started to decline, according to earnings reports of global providers of diagnostic healthcare products, including Quidel, Abbott and Qiagen,“ an industry source said.

The three major firms have recently lowered their 2021 targets as COVID-19 test demand wanes.

Quidel, for instance, cut its 2021 revenue guidance from $2.9 billion to roughly $2.5 billion in March, an adjustment made after a rapid drop in coronavirus test demand in the first quarter.

The company‘s CEO Doug Bryant reported that demand for coronavirus tests fell between 30-40 percent in February and March, compared to the fourth quarter last year.

Qiagen also reported that the company’s COVID-19 sales fell 17 percent on-year in its preliminary second-quarter results.

By Shim Woo-hyun (