Nora Boydstun is diligent about checking expiration dates. So when he received the latest batch of four free at-home Covid tests from the US government in December. He quickly noticed that their packages listed an expiration date of July or August 2022.
Over the summer, the Food and Drug Administration extended the testing period by six months. But even with that extra time, Boydstun’s two tests were only valid until January 2. This meant he had two days to use them after they arrived. . The remaining two exams will end in a month.
“I honestly thought when we ordered these, we’d get something current that we could have on hand for a while,” said Boydstun. Who lives in Douglas County, Colo. Symptoms or known exposure.
Other people reported similar problems and confusion after the latest round of tests began shipping on Dec. 19. Some newly distributed iHealth tests from Covid.gov will expire in the next month or so according to their extended dates. It is not clear how many such tests were distributed.
The Department of Health and Human Services, which runs the mail-order Covid testing program. Did not respond to repeated requests for comment and information about the expiration date issues. The FDA did not comment in time for publication.
Jack Rogers, who lives in Portland, Ore., said he received his free iHealth tests just before Christmas. Their term is due to expire on February 14.
“It’s been a bit frustrating, just because this new Covid variant is going around and the cases are increasing. I’m worried that I’m not going to have a test that’s available, that hasn’t expired yet, in the event that I need it,” he said.
To find out when a Covid test expires — factoring in the extension period — people can look up the manufacturer and test name on the FDA website. From there, they’ll find a list of
expiration dates, sorted by batch lot number, located on the back of each test box.
Lot number behind Boydstoun’s covid test.
Lot number and original expiry date on Boydstoun’s Covid Test Kit. Courtesy of Nora Boydstun
According to the FDA’s updated list, most iHealth tests with extended shelf lives expire in February at the latest. The latest extended date for Abbott’s BinaxNOW trial is April.
There is a notice on the USPS site for ordering free tests asking people to check for extended expiration dates and directing them to the FDA site. But Rogers said he wasn’t aware of the extension when his tests came, so he thought first
I keep up with the news and I pay a lot of attention to epidemics and health issues in my community. And this was something that definitely flew under my radar,” he said.
On Twitter, users expressed confusion about the back-of-the-box expiry date which had already passed.
Rogers and Boydstun each said they are concerned that others. Who have experienced the same confusion may actually throw out the tests before they expire. Or mistakenly use the tests after their new expiration dates.
“Some people will get it in the mail, assume it’s new, assume it’s current, use it and rely on it,” Boydstun said.
If a test has expired, the general recommendation is to throw it away, says Dr. Susan Butler-Woo. Associate professor of clinical pathology at the University of Southern California.
For those who want to take advantage of an expired test, Butler-Wu recommends making sure the pink control line at the top of the test is clearly visible.
“If there’s any fun business with that control, it’s not a valid test result and you can’t use it,” he said.
People with Covid symptoms should not trust. Negative results from expired tests He added: “If you’re sitting there and you’ve lost your sense of taste or smell.