COVID-19 test expired? Check this before you throw it out

Have your rapid COVID-19 tests expired? Don’t throw them yet.

Federal authorities have extended the expiration dates of some tests, which means certain offers are now months longer to use.

The reason for the extension, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration said, is that in a rush to make rapid test kits available, the agency has typically approved a shelf life of only about four to six months from the date of manufacture.

However, manufacturers continue to test kits past their original expiration date, and some find that testing is good for longer periods of time.

Once the manufacturer has more data on the test kits’ shelf life — say 12 or 18 months — the company can ask the FDA to approve a later expiration date, the agency said.

“If a longer shelf life is approved, the expiration dates will be extended and the test manufacturer can send customers a notice to specify the new approved expiration dates so customers know how long to use the tests they already have.”

To verify that your test kit is still good past the printed expiration date, you can search the FDA’s At-Home OTC COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests website.

Enter the brand name on the FDA website and a link will appear with a list of updated expiration dates.

You may need to check the batch number on your package. Suppose you are trying to look up an iHealth COVID-19 test kit with lot number 222CO20208. Scroll down the document to find your lot number and you will find that the original expiration date has been extended from August 7th to February 7th, 2023.

Officials have long pointed out that at-home testing is central to the country’s response to the coronavirus, allowing residents to ascertain and monitor their status and take appropriate precautions to avoid infecting others.

Although less sensitive than a lab-based PCR test, quick-at-home offers are expected to detect at least 80% of cases of coronavirus infection, according to the FDA. While positive results are usually correct, the agency has warned of possible false negative results, particularly early in a person’s contagious phase.

As a result, the FDA is recommending “repeat testing after a negative result, whether or not you have COVID-19 symptoms” — a requirement that may prove more workable now that certain tests have a longer shelf life.

If you have COVID-19 symptoms and get a negative rapid test result, the FDA suggests retaking the test 48 hours later. If that test is also negative and you’re still concerned that your symptoms are caused by COVID-19, the FDA suggests either a third rapid test or a PCR test.

Testing is also important to determine when an infected person can exit their isolation period. Health officials recommend that anyone infected with the coronavirus be isolated for at least five days, and exiting isolation requires a negative result of a rapid test on or after the fifth day after symptoms appear or the first positive test, according to the Californian Ministry of Health.

If you cannot test after Day 5 or continue to test positive, the state recommends isolation for a period of at least 10 days. COVID-19 test expired? Check this before you throw it out

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