U.S. regulators have agreed to delay the availability of hundreds of thousands of expired rapid tests despite concerns they could return false results
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the shelf life of about 800,000 expired coronavirus tests that sat in a Florida warehouse for months, giving state health officials more time to use them up.
After Abbott Diagnostics, the company that makes the kits, sent a letter to regulators, the FDA allowed the extension, saying the rapid tests would be stable for another three months if they were stored at room temperature. report Tuesday.
Kevin Guthrie, director of Florida’s Department of Emergency Management, told reporters last week that while the test kit passed its expiration date last September, the FDA previously agreed to extend its shelf life until the end of 2021. Tuesday’s decision means the tests will be available sometime in March.
Guthrie explained that prior to the Omicron variant, demand for rapid tests plummeted across Florida, leaving hundreds of thousands of kits unused in warehouses. A spokesman for Gov. Ron DeSantis told the Herald last week that state officials were reluctant to donate any expired tests because they feared it could provide false results.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried — who has announced she will challenge DeSantis in a gubernatorial race later this year — criticized the state after the FDA decision, saying “Floridians are waiting for expiring tests, and Floridians are waiting in line for hours to receive potentially life-saving information.”
“Now that we know their use is going to expand, my question to the governor is: What’s the plan to make them public right away?” she added.
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