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Can You Use Expired Covid Tests?

Michael Hunter, MD
Published in
3 min readMay 15, 2022


ONE MILLION. THAT’S THE NUMBER OF COVID-19 DEATHS we will soon reach in the United States. That’s more ​​than have died in two decades of car crashes or on battlefields in all of the country’s wars combined.

An acquaintance recently reported his infection from the novel coronavirus. Heeding President Biden’s recent call for vigilance against a virus that has “forever changed” the country, I quickly reached for a Covid-19 test.

Should I use this expired test? What do you think?

Covid-19 testing

I had stocked up on at-home COVID-19 test kits, remembering how challenging the kits had been to find in the past.

The United States federal government subsequently initiated a program to mail kits to each household. We also had some kits from a local pharmacy. Some had dates indicating they had already expired. Could I still use them?

An “X” composed of red plastic L-shaped pieces.
Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash

Here’s what I learned: I need to check the expiration date on the test kit before using it.

Expired tests have this problem:

The probability of a false negative result (the test says I don’t have a Covid-19 infection when I do) is higher with an expired test, according to Jared Auclair, director of the Biopharmaceutical Analysis Training Lab at Northeastern.

Expired Covid-19 tests are more likely to be inaccurate. Covid-19 tests that are expired should go into the trash.

The at-home Covid-19 tests are antibody tests that respond to immune system cells to fight the Covid virus. The chemical components that mark whether antibodies are present can degrade with the test’s expiration date.

Covid-19 at-home testing: Check the expiration date

Check your Covid-19 test kit expiration dates. Some tests are best-used within six months, while others might be good for nine or 11 months. Real-time data is coming in, so the expiration dates may change.

Store the test kits properly. Keep the tests dry and at room temperature, with no extreme heat or…



Michael Hunter, MD

I have degrees from Harvard, Yale, and Penn. I am a radiation oncologist in the Seattle area. You may find me regularly posting at www.newcancerinfo.com