COVID home test kits get a new lease on usefulness
Ray Smith
/ Categories: WELLNESS, 2023

COVID home test kits get a new lease on usefulness

How to find out if your test—even an expired one—is still good

The first at-home COVID tests were approved in November 2020. Since then, a lot of time has passed, and a number of variants have made the rounds. Which may leave you wondering if the antigen tests you have on your bathroom shelf are still effective.

As with so many questions around COVID, the answer is ‘it depends.’

The reason for that is because the FDA recently extended the expiration date on a number of home tests, in some cases up to six months, beyond the date printed on the box. This change is the result of extensive testing on the part of various manufacturers.

To see if the life of your test has been extended, click here and refer to the table at the bottom of the page.

While less sensitive than molecular (PCR) tests offered at the doctor’s office or hospital, home antigen tests can still detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus about 80% of the time. To reduce your risk of getting a false negative result, the FDA advises people using home tests to perform repeat testing; specifically, testing at least twice over three days if they have symptoms and at least three times over five days if they do not have symptoms. If you test positive, it’s very likely that you have COVID and there’s no need to test again. Be sure to follow the CDC’s guidelines to prevent spreading the virus.

If you haven’t been vaccinated or are not up-to-date on your boosters, you should schedule your shots as soon as possible. Research shows that vaccinations and boosters continue to offer the safest and best protection from severe illness, hospitalization, and even death. 

For more information on COVID-19 testing, vaccines, and boosters, call SVHC’s COVID-19 Hotline at (802) 440-8844, Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Karen M Bond, MS CLS, MT(ASCP) is  the Director of Laboratory Services at Southwestern Vermont Medical Center.

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