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FDA confirms some at-home COVID-19 tests are still accurate after expiration date

When the federal government sent out its first batch of free tests to residents, a CBS 8 employee received one in a box that shows it's set to expire next month.

SAN DIEGO — When the pandemic first started, at-home COVID tests were tough to get your hands on. 

But what if you bought some back then, didn't use them, and now they're expired? Before you throw them away, we have some good news: They may still be ok to use.

When the federal government sent out its first batch of free tests to residents, a CBS 8 employee received one in a box that shows it's set to expire next month. 

But on the FDA's at-home testing webpage, they now have a chart listing all of their authorized tests, and it includes updated expiration dates.

“Now, they know their shelf life can be extended,” said Dr. Argentina Servin, an assistant professor at UCSD's School of Medicine. 

She says now that the FDA has had more time for the tests to sit on shelves, they can take a closer look at them to see if, and when, the chemicals inside start breaking down. 

And for those tests lasting longer than originally anticipated, the expiration dates are being extended.

The iHealth test the CBS 8 employee received from the federal government was set to go bad on June 23, but when we looked up that date on the FDA's website, it shows a new expiration date of September 22. 

But once that passes, Dr. Servin says you definitely should not use it because the results may not be accurate. 

“And the worst thing that can happen is having a false negative, right? Where you have symptoms, or you have been exposed and you might have COVID and you think you don't because you have a negative result, but it's from an expired test so it's not really accurate and we might end up infecting other people,” said Dr. Servin.

The federal government just announced everyone can order eight more free tests from them. 

Dr. Servin recommends taking advantage of that offer so you have them, just in case. Unfortunately, we're starting to see another spike in cases. 

“We did see an increase in the past four weeks in the number of cases among children,” Dr. Servin said. “We're also seeing an increase in some hospitalizations and deaths in children - which we haven't seen before,”

And with the summer travel season just around the corner, she says it's a good idea to test before visiting family and friends, especially if they have compromised immune systems.

WATCH RELATED: UC San Diego scientists study why some people have never had COVID-19 (May 2022)

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