At-home COVID-19 self-tests break down over time. That’s why you need to check the expiration date on the product’s box before testing yourself and not use a test that’s past its shelf life.
However, users should also realize that the U.S. FDA can extend the shelf life of a test when and if it receives additional data supporting its stability and capacity to continue to provide accurate results after the listed expiration date. On Aug. 19, the agency announced that it has, in fact, extended the shelf life of several at-home, over-the-counter (OTC) COVID-19 rapid tests.
What to Do: Go to the table of approved COVID-19 tests on the FDA’s website and check the expiration date for the particular test on the far right:
- If the Expiration Date column says that the shelf life is “extended,” there will be a link to where you can find the original and new expiration dates; or
- If the Expiration Date column doesn’t say that the shelf life has been extended, the expiration label on the box is still correct and you should toss the test in the garbage if it’s past expiration.