The Margin: Have you been stockpiling COVID test kits that are now expired? Some might still be good to use

by | Feb 11, 2023 | Stock Market

How long are those at-home COVID test kits good for, anyway? That’s a question likely to be on many people’s minds now that President Joe Biden is planning to end the country’s COVID-19 emergency status on May 11, which means that many Americans may no longer get their COVID tests for free.

Those who may have been stockpiling the free rapid at-home COVID tests that the federal government has sent directly to Americans are probably wondering how long these testing kits will be effective. Google searches for “free Medicare COVID tests” and “free COVID tests from government” have increased 250% and 150%, respectively, in the 24 hours since the Biden announcement, according to Google Trends data. And Google searches along the lines of “COVID test expiration date” have been popular over the past few months. Coronavirus update: Biden to end U.S. COVID emergencies on May 11, but more than 500 people are still dying every day But here’s something important to know: That expiration date may not actually mean the test is expired. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the shelf life of many authorized over-the-counter COVID diagnostic tests. For example, the Abbott BinaxNow COVID-19 antigen self-test, which originally expired after 15 months, is now good for up to 22 months. Similarly, the iHealth Labs COVID-19 antigen rapid test is now safe to use for 15 months — an increase of three months over the original expiration date. The FDA’s list of COVID tests on the market indicates whether the shelf life has been extended or not. If there is an extension, the FDA provides a link to information showing the updated expiration dates for …

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