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Has your at-home COVID test expired? Here’s what you need to know

Many of us are using those at-home rapid COVID-19 tests more often especially as new cases pick up again.

But you may not have noticed some vital information on the box – the expiration date.

“When it comes to these tests, they have a date, and [FDA] are continuing to test to make sure that they’re accurate beyond that date, so the shelf life will be extended perhaps over time,” said Dr. Gigi Gronvall, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security and lead of the COVID-19 Testing Toolkit.

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Dr. Gronvall said the FDA already extended the use of these test three months beyond the expiration date.

But she said whether to use a kit beyond the expiration date also depends on your circumstance.

“If you have a test at home, and it’s past the expiration date, you need to use it right then, you know, take use the test, but keep that in mind in case you get something that result that you’re not expecting,” she said.

Regardless of the expiration date, Dr. Gronvall said make sure you can see the control line on the test before using it. She said without that line, the test isn’t working properly and the results won’t be accurate at all.

A spokesperson Abbott, which makes the BinaxNOW rapid tests, said its kits are good for up to 15 months.

In a written statement, the company said “This should help people stock up in advance so they can be prepared for surges and when demand is high. People should follow the expiration date on the box.”

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Similar to other medications, doctors say treat these tests with care.

“You’re not supposed to leave them outside in subzero temperatures. You’re not supposed to treat the boxes poorly so put it in a cool, dry place,” said Dr. Gronvall.

Every household in the US can order two sets of testing kits (8 total) for free from the federal government. Just go to covid.gov