How to check if expired tests still work as cases rise

Pictured here are Abbott’s Covid-19 rapid home testing kits in Orlando.

Paul Hennessy | LightRocket | Getty Images

As Covid cases surge again in the US, Americans are digging up idle funds Tests at home that they had hidden at the beginning of the pandemic.

Many of them Testing might have passed theirs Expiry datesbut don’t throw them away yet.

The Food and Drug Administration has extended the expiration dates of many popular at-home testing products, meaning some of your old kits may still be safe to use. You can check this by visiting an FDA page website Expiration information for each test brand is listed here.

“That’s the first thing I would do before using an expired test or throwing it away,” Andrew Pekosz, a professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, told CNBC.

If the date has not changed, the FDA recommends against using expired tests. This increases the chance of an inaccurate test result that could endanger your or someone else’s health.

A false result once again poses a higher risk as Covid gains a stronger foothold across the country, driven primarily by newer variants of the virus such as the now predominant EG.5 strain or “Eris”. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Covid hospitalizations rose nearly 19% last week, marking the sixth straight week of rising admissions.

Public health experts say testing remains an important tool for protection despite rising Covid metrics. But laboratory PCR tests — the traditional method of detecting Covid — have become more expensive and less accessible for some Americans since the U.S. government ended the public health emergency in May.

The end of this statement too changed how public and private insurers cover Home testing, which may mean some people won’t be able to get these tests for free as part of their plans. Certainly, however local health clinics and community sites continue to offer free at-home testing to the public.

Before purchasing new home tests, it doesn’t hurt to check whether the expired tests sitting in your medicine cabinet are still safe to use. Here’s a walkthrough and everything else you need to know about these tests.

How to check carefully whether there is an extended expiry date

The FDA website lists the brands of Covid tests alphabetically in a table. Or you can use a search box to find your test directly.

The agency indicates whether each trademark has an extended expiration date. It usually contains a link to a PDF file with new expiration dates for specific test batches.

Look for your test’s lot number – usually printed on the packaging next to the expiry date – and compare it to the information in the PDF.

For example, a “BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag self-test” with batch number 181922 has the new expiration date of October 11th. This is more than a year after the printed date of September 11, 2022 and extends the product’s total shelf life to 22 months.

The FDA extends expiration dates when a manufacturer submits data showing that the shelf life of its test is longer than was known when the agency first approved the product.

“The expiration dates originally reported on these tests were sometimes very short because they were based on the data available at the time,” Pavitra Roychoudhury, a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of Washington School of Medicine, told CNBC. “But time has passed and more data has been collected, so we can now assess the stability and sensitivity of these tests over longer periods of time.”

How home tests perform against new variants

Most home tests came to market long before Eris and other new variants appeared in the United States. But the FDA and experts say existing home tests detect Covid infections caused by these new strains, most of which are descendants of Omicron.

“With EG.5, it is very clear that at-home tests, as well as many other tests conducted in medical facilities, hospitals and other locations, detect all of these and other currently circulating variants,” said Pekosz of Johns Hopkins.

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The FDA also said last week that “existing tests to detect and drugs to treat COVID-19 remain effective” with another Omicron subvariant called BA.2.86, which has been detected in very low numbers in the United States

The CDC is tracking this variant because it has a high number of mutations that distinguish it from all other known strains of the virus. So far, there is no evidence that BA.2.86 causes more serious infections than other variants.

But new Studies Researchers from China and Sweden suggest that BA.2.86 may be less contagious and less immune-damaging than feared.

“Overall, it appears to be nowhere near as extreme a situation as the original emergence of Omicron,” Benjamin Murrell, principal investigator of the Sweden study, wrote in a Post on X, formerly known as Twitter. How to check if expired tests still work as cases rise

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