TRUST INDEX: Which expiration date should you use on the COVID-19 home tests?

Dates can be different on each of the components in the box

SAN ANTONIO – When you open an at-home COVID-19 test kit, there are several components inside: the swab, the solution, and the test strip.

A KSAT viewer brought to our attention that each piece has different expiration dates.

We checked two different types of tests to confirm.

The iHealth box has its expiration date on the back. There are also dates on the swabs and solution, and all three are different.

We also checked a Binax Now test kit, another brand sent out by the government. That box has an expiration date of April 26, 2023, and the swab read January 1, 2027.

Dr. Campbell, an internal medicine physician in the Long School of Medicine at UT Health San Antonio, said this could understandably cause some confusion.

“The expiration date on the outside of the box is generally considered to be the most important expiration date you can use and the one you should use over all others,” Campbell said.

The date on the box correlates directly to the test strip. On the iHealth kit, you can tell because there’s no expiration date on the packaging or the strip itself.

The proof is even clearer on the Binax tests, where there is a date on the strip package, and it’s the same as the one on the box.

“It could very well be that they’re perfectly reliable up to those dates, but it would be a sad thing if you experienced either a false positive or a false negative because one of the components was not working properly,” Campbell said.

So experts agree that the best expiration date to use is the one on the box itself, which labels it “true” on the KSAT Trust Index.

Dr. Campbell also mentioned that the tests won’t work if they’re in extremely cold or hot temperatures. So make sure you know when you’re getting yours delivered this summer so you can get them out of the heat.

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About the Authors

Courtney Friedman anchors KSAT’s weekend evening shows and reports during the week. Her ongoing Loving in Fear series confronts Bexar County’s domestic violence epidemic. She joined KSAT in 2014 and is proud to call the SA and South Texas community home. She came to San Antonio from KYTX CBS 19 in Tyler, where she also anchored & reported.

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