UPDATE 2-Italian prosecutors search Diasorin offices over coronavirus contracts

(Adds comment from Diasorin)

MILAN, July 22 (Reuters) - Prosecutors in Italy have searched offices of medical diagnostic group Diasorin and a hospital in the northern region worst hit by the coronavirus outbreak in a probe over the awarding of antibody test contracts.

Prosecutors in the city of Pavia said on Wednesday the chief executive of Diasorin, Carlo Rosa, as well as senior officials of the Policlinico San Matteo hospital were under investigation.

They are investigating whether Diasorin received unduly favourable treatment when it was awarded a contract to help develop a coronavirus antibody test with the hospital.

The contract was awarded as part of a push to set up a widespread testing system in Italy, which has been among the countries in Europe worst affected by the coronavirus epidemic.

It has been challenged by rival diagnostics group Technogenetics and last month a court cancelled the deal before that ruling was overturned by the Council of State, the body which oversees the legality of public administration in Italy.

Diasorin said it had always acted properly in the case and added it had “full confidence in the outcome of investigations being carried out by judicial authorities.” No comment was immediately available from the hospital.

The tests by Diasorin and the hospital identify antibodies in the blood developed by the immune system in reaction to the presence of the coronavirus. They have been in use since mid-April. (Reporting by Emilio Parodi, James Mackenzie; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise and Mark Potter)