Do Lateral Flow Tests Expire?
Since PCR and lateral flow tests now come at a cost, there is worry about how this will impact COVID-19 testing in the days to come. Recently you could get them on government websites and most pharmacies or community centres; now, you will have to look them up on your own.
So, if you are looking for lateral flow test kits for sale, you probably want to know if they expire and how long the shelf life is. So do lateral flow tests expire? The answer is yes, they do. But why exactly do they expire?
Why Do COVID-19 Lateral Flow Tests Have an Expiration Date?
In most cases, a lateral flow test expiry date is there because there is a part of that kit that reduces effectiveness as time goes by. Expiration dates on medical devices are there for this sole purpose. The date you see on your medical kit is the last day you can use it, and expect it to give you accurate results. Beyond that day, however, some of the materials in the kit may no longer be as effective as they were.
According to the NHS, the buffer solution can only last two years. However, as the liquid evaporates, you might notice it losing its effectiveness even before then. If the kit was purchased a while back, you might notice insufficient liquid in a lateral flow test when you try to squirt on the testing device.
As a precaution, you may find that some lateral flow tests expire earlier than two years. It is vital to ensure that the lateral flow test you are using has not reached the expiry date to avoid getting invalid results.
So before starting your test, you need to check the expiry date of your COVID kit box. Next, analyse your buffer solution. If it looks depleted, there will be not enough liquid in a lateral flow test to show accurate readings.
Where Can You Find the Lateral Flow Test Expiry Date?
Depending on the brand, this may vary. However, for most brands, you can find the expiry date at the bottom of the box. Standard rapid antigen tests include the Healgen rapid antigen test and the FlowFlex antigen test.
If the expiry date is not on the underside, ensure you scan the entire box until you find it if you are unsure whether the kit you have has expired. People should take the tests mostly when they have been in crowded places outdoors or when they are just visiting someone sick who has COVID. The test should be taken at least once every seven days after contacting someone with the virus.
Can You Use an Expired COVID-19 Test?
You should not use an expired COVID-19 kit unless the FDA extends the date. According to federal health, the expiration date means the kit should no longer be relied upon to offer accurate results. In most cases, the materials inside have degraded and will likely produce invalid results, especially for those actively sick.
However, it is essential to note that if the FDA has approved the expiration date extension, you should not use that kit on a patient. This is so because the kit can no longer be relied upon regarding assurance or safety.
An expiration date is critical in ensuring that the test is fit for human use and that you can count on the results you get. Wrong or inaccurate results can bring about situations where people spread the virus further or get infected because they didn't get the actual accurate results. If you notice that your COVID tests have expired, do not use them.
If you have a COVID test kit that has been in your house for a while, or you have just found one, check the expiration date on the box to see if it is still valid. If it is beyond the expiration date, check with the FDA and see if there is an extension. If there isn't, don't attempt to use them. Dispose of them instead. Lateral flow tests are a great way for people who suspect they have COVID to test themselves. This is why you need to use them when their efficacy and accuracy are high to ensure you get the correct results.