Are at-home COVID tests OK to use after expiring? Local health experts have the answer

Health experts say before you take an at-home Covid test, you need to check the expiration date first. But even if the date has passed, don’t throw it out yet.
Published: Jun. 2, 2022 at 9:31 PM CDT|Updated: Jun. 2, 2022 at 10:36 PM CDT
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Local health experts say before you take an at-home Covid test, there’s something you need to check first, the expiration date. But even if the date has passed, don’t throw it out just yet.

It’s time for Monty the German Shepard mix’s daily test, his dog trick test.

“Ready? We are going to do all of them, okay?” says Monty’s human Scott Zimmerman.

Zimmerman takes tests, too. His tests are Covid-19 at-home tests.

“If I go to a concert and then I’m seeing older relatives or something, I take a test before I go to that event and know I’m not potentially endangering people,” says Zimmerman.

Local health experts say before you check your Covid-19 status, you need to check the expiration date.

“When a lot of these home tests were first developed, there wasn’t a lot of data on shelf life,” says Morgan Finke with Public Health Madison & Dane County. “The FDA does not recommend using at-home tests beyond their authorized expiration dates. So definitely you want to check.”

First check the date, and then if it is expired, check the FDA’s website. There’s a chance the manufacturer has gotten a shelf life extension approved.

“Let’s say you have a test that reads July 21 is when it expires. If it is one of those companies that filed for an extension, it’s actually not going to expire until October 20th. That’s that three months beyond that date,” explains Finke.

Because it typically takes scientists a few years to get dates solidified and because Covid-19 at-home tests are fairly new, the dates on the box are more of a moving target.

“It’s proof we continue to learn about Covid and all of the things from treatment to vaccines to testing. We have researching going on constantly to learn and improve, and these at-home tests are no exception,” says Finke.

PHMDC is working on a new initiative to expand free at-home test access to local families. They are currently in a pilot program now and tope to extend it soon.

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