KIYC: Has your home COVID test expired? Don’t toss it just yet. Here’s why.
Home COVID tests have become a big part of our new normal, so much so that the federal government spent $2 billion to supply free test kits to each American household. But a Kane In Your Corner investigation found that many perfectly good COVID tests could wind up getting thrown out, because of confusion over when they expire.
Since the spring, the US Food and Drug Administration has quietly been extending expiration dates on some home test kits by up to 12 months, but the word hasn’t filtered down to many.
“It's concerning, because you don't know whether what you're using is still good or not,” says Armando Perez.
“How does the consumer or the person who purchased it have a clue whether or not it's valid?” asks Chris Chappell. When we told her that she’d have to go to the FDA or manufacturer’s website to see if the date on the test package is still valid or has been extended, she says that’s “confusing, especially if you're not the most tech-savvy person in the world.”
There’s no way to know exactly how many perfectly good tests are being disposed of, but it could be a lot. Kane In Your Corner obtained dozens of tests that were discarded by just one private school. Despite what the packaging says, all are still good, so we’ll be donating them.
But it’s not entirely the school’s fault that it disposed of kits that can still be used. The only announcement from the FDA came in the form of an advisory buried on its website on April 28. Some kits had already been extended for months by then.
“I'm sure many of these tests are going to waste, so it's important to spread this information,” says Dr. Deena Admimoolam, whose practice includes internal medicine and endocrinology. She says if you buy a kit direct from the manufacturer, you may get an email telling you the expiration date is extended, but if you buy from a retail store, you’ll need to go to the FDA or manufacturer's website.
“It’s really important to look, because not all of them have had extended expiration dates announced by the FDA, so if you use it beyond that timeframe, there's a potential of having invalid results,” Adimoolam says.
News 12 requested an interview with the FDA about the process by which kits are extended. A spokesperson said “I don’t have anyone available for an interview,” and referred Kane In Your Corner to a web page with frequently asked questions.
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