What Is the Shelf-Life of At-Home COVID Tests?
At-home COVID-19 tests have become more accessible, and many people have stocked up on testing kits. While keeping a few COVID testing kits on hand is beneficial, it’s important to ensure that the test isn’t expired before you use it. If you’re considering using an at-home COVID test, educate yourself about your testing options, how to use a COVID test correctly, and the shelf-life of your testing kit.
At-Home COVID Testing Options
There are many different options for at-home, over-the-counter (OTC) COVID diagnostic tests. These diagnostic tests will tell you whether or not there is a COVID-19 infection. For the most accurate results, choose an FDA-authorized self-test. To use this test, follow the directions and you will receive your results without needing to send the test to a laboratory. Authorized OTC tests do not require a prescription. You may find them at a store near you or online.
How Do I Use an At-Home COVID Test?
If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 or any variant of the virus, it is important to perform the test as soon as possible. The at-home COVID tests you will find in drug stores and online are rapid antigen test kits, meaning that they provide results in 15 to 20 minutes. Self-testing, vaccination, social distancing, and masking are critical to prevent the spread of the virus.
The 9 Steps to Perform an At-Home COVID Test
When performing an at-home COVID test, you must follow the directions carefully to obtain the most accurate results possible. Follow the steps below for accurate results:
- Wash your hands thoroughly with antibacterial soap and water for at least one minute.
- Most testing kits contain a collection swab, a test strip, and a small vial of liquid. Put them on a dry, sanitized surface.
- Unwrap the collection swab and insert it into each nostril. You will rotate the swab five times. Place the swab into the packaging so you can use it for the next steps.
- Take the vial of liquid and gently tap it on a hard surface three times.
- Next, open the vial of liquid and insert the swab. You will stir the swab 15 times.
- As you pull the swab out of the vial, squeeze the sides of the tube. Then, seal the vial with the cap.
- Upon opening the test strip, you will see the letters “C” and “T.”
- From there, open the cap on the vial of liquid and squeeze three drops of your sample on the test strip.
- Let the test strip sit for 15 minutes and view your results.
How to Interpret Your At-Home Test Kit Results
After 15 minutes have passed, your test results are ready for viewing. Pay close attention to the following:
- The line under the “C” symbolizes control. The line beneath the “C” will show you whether or not the test is functioning properly. If you do not see a line under the “C,” the test isn’t working.
- There is an area beneath the “T,” the test section. If there is no line underneath the “T,” you have tested negative for COVID. Your test results are positive if you see a line under the “T.”
At-home COVID tests are quite accurate, so if you receive a positive test result, follow COVID-19 safety precautions to avoid spreading the disease. Remember that false negatives are possible, particularly if you test early on in the infection.
What Is the Shelf-Life of At-Home COVID Tests?
When referring to at-home COVID tests, the shelf-life dictates how long the test will work correctly. The shelf-life is measured from the date that the test was manufactured. The expiration date on the test packaging refers to the end of the test’s shelf-life.
The shelf-life for an at-home COVID test depends on the test you purchase. Some tests expire in six months, while others expire in fifteen months. Each test has a different shelf life due to the FDA regulatory process, not the effectiveness of the testing kit itself. The only way for manufacturers to determine the actual expiration date of an at-home COVID test is by conducting stability studies that validate the tests.
For some at-home COVID tests, the expiration date is extended. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently provided data stating that at-home COVID tests provide accurate results for longer than they initially believed. As a result, some rapid test kits are effective for six months longer than the expiration date on the package. For more information, check the FDA list that explains which at-home COVID tests have an extended expiration date.
How Should I Store My At-Home COVID Tests?
To ensure that your at-home COVID tests produce accurate results, it is essential to store them properly. Do not store your at-home COVID test in extremely cold or hot conditions. Ideally, your COVID tests will remain in dry, room temperature conditions.
When choosing an at-home COVID test, check the expiration dates and choose tests that do not expire for a while. In addition, check the expiration dates for the tests you currently have and use the tests that will expire first before the others.
What Should You Do with an Expired Home Test?
Although healthcare professionals advise against expired tests, many people have unused tests that can still provide accurate results. If you have an at-home COVID test that is only a few days past the expiration date. If your at-home COVID test has expired over a few months, check to see if the FDA has extended the expiration date.
Complete COVID Testing At Home with Countrywide Testing
If you’re experiencing symptoms of COVID, conduct an at-home COVID test as soon as possible to protect yourself and others from disease. Consider stocking up on at-home COVID tests so that you’re prepared for any situation.
Countrywide Testing is an online retailer of many health-related diagnostic test devices, including drug tests. If you’re concerned that a loved one may be abusing an illegal drug, let Countrywide Testing offer you peace of mind with our FDA-approved at-home drug testing kits.
Our drug kits are all analyzed with laboratory services from Phamatech, Inc, a SAMHSA, ISO, CLIA, and CAP licensed laboratory, to provide you with fast and reliable results that you can trust.
When you need answers, Countrywide is there. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help!