Should I throw out my “expired” COVID-19 rapid antigen tests?

Testing and Contact Tracing

A) Not so fast!🛑 Before you toss those tests, check online for an expiration date extension.

There’s a good chance that the true expiration date is well beyond the date printed on the box.

To hunt down extended expiration dates and understand why they can be moving targets, read on:

In the United States, 13 of 22 approved at-home COVID-19 rapid antigen tests have extended expiration dates as of today (Sept 15, 2022). These include:|
– BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card Home Test (Abbott Diagnostics)
– BinaxNOW COVID-19 Antigen Self Test (Abbott Diagnostics)
– CareStart COVID-19 Antigen Home Test (Access Bio, Inc)
– Celltrion DiaTrust COVID-19 Ag Home Test (Celltrion USA, Inc)
– Detect Covid-19 Test (Detect, Inc)
– Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test (ACON Laboratories, Inc)
– iHealth COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test (iHealth Labs, Inc)
– InteliSwab COVID-19 Rapid Test (OraSure Technologies, Inc)
– Lucira CHECK-IT COVID-19 Test Kit (Lucira Health, Inc)
– MaximBio ClearDetect COVID-19 Antigen Home Test (Maxim Biomedical, Inc)
– OHC COVID-19 Antigen Self Test (OSANG LLC)
– Pilot COVID-19 At-Home Test (SD Biosensor, Inc)
– SCoV-2 Ag Detect Rapid Self-Test (InBios International, Inc)

To get your new expiration date, go to the FDA webpage for over-the-counter COVID-19 antigen tests (link below). Click on the link in the Expiration Date column next to your at-home test brand. Next, find the lot number and original expiration date printed on your test kit and check the next column for the updated expiration date.

For example, the Abbott BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Self Tests with a printed expiration date of September 15, 2022 are verified for use until February 21, 2023 due to a shelf-life extension to 15 months.

❗Note: When possible, look up your exact lot number and printed expiration date rather than guesstimating your extension. The interval of time between the printed expiration date and updated expiration date can vary significantly, even for the same test brand, due to multiple rounds of extensions.

Many rapid antigen tests expiration dates have also been extended outside of the United States. For example, in Canada, several rapid antigen tests (Abbott Panbio, BD Veritor, Rapid Response) received significant shelf life extensions. If you have older tests from these brands, online sleuthing can help you figure out which lots and printed expiration dates have extensions.

Why do expiration dates for at-home COVID-19 tests seem to be moving targets? The answer comes down to regulatory processes and the need for speed in a pandemic. Based on their components, we expect rapid antigen tests to last roughly 1 to 2 years when stored well. To prove this to the FDA (or other regulatory body), test makers must perform validation experiments after the designated amount of time. Yet, waiting for years before launching antigen tests is clearly problematic in the middle of a pandemic. So, many manufacturers launched initially with a shorter expiration date (e.g. 6 months), then applied for expiration date extensions after enough time passed to prove that their products lasted much longer.

Hot tips:

👉Store your tests at room temperature.
👉Check expiry dates when shopping.
👉Organize your stash by expiration date and use the oldest ones first.
👉Be leery if the control (C) line doesn’t show up quickly. That’s a bad sign in terms of test quality.

Keep calm and test on!

Nerdy Girl Chana @fueledbyscience


FDA Over the Counter Diagnostic Tests

Do Home COVID Tests Expire?

Extended Shelf-life for Rapid Antigen Tests in Canada (Ontario Health)

Expired Rapid Response Rapid Antigen Tests in British Columbia

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Free COVID tests in WI, MN or WA

How well do COVID-19 rapid antigen tests work? Is a single antigen test enough?

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