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Verify: Yes, you should not use an at-home coronavirus test kit past its expiration date

You also have to store the kit within the proper temperature range.

SAN ANTONIO — With the rise of the Omicron variant at-home COVID test kits flew off the shelves. But are the tests in your cabinet still good to use? We are used to seeing food, drinks, and medication with an expiration date. But home coronavirus test kits have them too.

THE QUESTION

Is it true that an at-home coronavirus test kit can not be used beyond the expiration date?

THE SOURCES

  • Dr. Jason Bowling, an infectious disease specialist with University Health and UT Health San Antonio
  • The Food and Drug Administration
  • Dr. Fred Campbell, an Associate Professor of Medicine with UT Health San Antonio

THE ANSWER

TRUE

WHAT WE FOUND

Dr. Bowling told us, "You should not use the COVID test at home test after expiration date. The reason is that the materials that are in those kits over time will break down. The manufacturers actually do some stability testing to see how long it lasts. But you want it to report an accurate result." 

In a statement the FDA agreed and said, "COVID-19 tests and parts they are made of may degrade, or break down, over time.  Because of this, expired test kits could give inaccurate test results."  

But there are cases where manufacturers of the tests have proven over time that the testing stability is longer, and a new expiration date can be requested, and then granted by the FDA. Dr. Fred Campbell added, "Because of the fact that this is a dynamic pandemic and that we are learning on the fly, it also applies to these rapid tests at home that we are finding out as we go along how reliable they are."  

So yes, it is true. An at-home coronavirus test kit can not be used beyond the expiration date.

Keep in mind that most test kits should be stored between 35 degrees and 86 degrees so they don't freeze invalidating the results, or degrade faster in extreme heat.