(CTN News) – Free home COVID-19 test kits ordered by consumers from a government website may arrive late, even after expiration dates.
However, specialists advise against dismissing the results of such testing out of hand. Many of these home tests have had their expiration dates extended by the federal government, despite the fact that this information is not often clearly displayed on the package.
Home coronavirus tests now have longer expiration dates, which may be found on the Food and Drug Administration website.
How can I order free home COVID-19 tests from the federal government?
The USPS will begin delivering tests to people’s homes starting the week of October 2 from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. To increase the government’s stock of home tests, HHS also announced that it will give $600 million to a dozen domestic COVID-19 test producers.
Officials estimate that within 18 months, the expenditure will have delivered almost 200 million additional COVID-19 tests that may be purchased without a prescription.
How can I tell if my test is expired?
The home COVID-19 test kits have a use-by date printed on the packaging. But the test kits will include various notices urging customers to visit the FDA’s website to see if the expiration dates have been extended.
A label will be placed on the packaging, and a pamphlet will be included, to alert buyers that they should check the FDA for new expiration dates before using the test kits. To get in touch with the agency, customers can dial 1-888-INFO-FDA.
How long have COVID test expiration dates been extended?
When manufacturers provide evidence proving a test can reliably produce results beyond its initial expiration date, the FDA will approve a date extension.
There are currently 37 home COVID tests that have been approved by the CDC; most of these are “antigen” tests that look for a coronavirus surface protein.
The 3EO Health COVID-19 Test has a maximum shelf life of four months. ACON Laboratories, Azure Biotech, Celltrion USA, GenBody, Princeton BioMeditech, and Siemens Healthineers produce the tests that last the longest, at 24 months.
Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test, a widely used diagnostic tool, now has a 22-month shelf life. Here you may check the expiration date of your Abbott BinaxNow test by entering the lot number.
My COVID test is beyond the extended expiration date. Can I still use it?
The FDA warns against using a COVID test after its extended expiration date has passed. The agency warned that using a kit after its extended expiration date increases the risk of obtaining erroneous test results due to degradation or breakdown of the test components.
My home test was left outside in hot or freezing temperatures. Can I still use it?
Manufacturers of tests must demonstrate the stability of their products by conducting weather-related tests both before and after shipment.
The FDA warns that tests may not function as expected if temperatures are too high.
If you get a test kit in extremely hot or cold temperatures, you should wait at least two hours before opening it. After that, read the test’s directions. Incorrect placement of the control lines, for instance, could invalidate the experiment’s results.
What can the antigen COVID tests detect?
In most cases, the results of a home antigen test can be expected within 15 minutes. Experts believe antigen tests can detect the virus when a person is infectious and likely to pass it on to others, but they are less sensitive than molecular PCR testing and are less likely to detect the virus early in the infection.
If an antigen test comes out negative, the FDA advises retaking the test to make sure an infection wasn’t overlooked. Individuals experiencing symptoms should retest 48 hours after a negative result.
According to FDA guidelines, in the absence of symptoms, you should take up to three tests over four days or more, with at least 48 hours passing between each.