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What to do with expired COVID-19 tests


The FDA recently extended the shelf life of 20 different tests you could receive in the mail.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – July 6 was a date that had Linda Wood doing a double take.

“My first reaction was what am I going to do? I guess I have to throw these away,” said Linda Wood, an Albuquerque resident. 

It was the expiration date on the COVID-19 test she got from the federal government in October.

“Which was confusing to me, because I knew I had ordered it after that,” said Wood. 

When she couldn’t get into her doctor’s office –  and learned an urgent care Rapid Test could cost her $70 – she called the company on the box.

“They said that they’re extending it for nine months,” Wood said. 

The FDA recently extended the shelf life of 20 different tests you could receive in the mail.

“What happened, in order to get these tests out quickly, they didn’t have a year or two years to kind of test and see whether they still worked. So they kind of short-dated them, put six months on, that allowed us to get tests in people’s hands quickly,” said NMDOH Chief Medical Officer Mirando Durham. 

Behind the scenes, they were working on a more accurate expiration timeline.

Durham says at the very least you can use an expired test as a start while you wait for a new one.

“Officially, we shouldn’t be using expired tests. But if it’s been well-kept and preserved, it’s probably OK as a starter to check,” said Durham. “If it’s been sitting in your car and getting to 100 degrees in the summer, and you know, down to freezing in the winter, like that test isn’t going to be as reliable, whether it’s expired or not.”

Durham says an expired test could produce a false negative or positive in some cases. 

Meanwhile, Wood adds this to her ever-growing list of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19:

“They should have really broadcasted that you can continue to use these for nine months. They really should have made a bigger point about that. Because I didn’t know, and I don’t know that many people do,” said Wood. 

Department of Health leaders are reminding New Mexicans it’s the perfect time to get a COVID-19 booster.

They say across the board vaccination numbers for the newest booster are low, while flu and RSV cases are starting to rise.

For a list of extended expiration date test brands, click here



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