Demand at our local COVID-19 testing sites has been intense over the last few weeks.
But now there’s a chance for some relief.
During a press conference this Wednesday morning in Bonita Springs, Governor Ron DeSantis announced that up to one-million Abbott Diagnostics BinaxNow COVID-19 test kits that expired last month can still be used.
These tests actually expired for the first time at the end of last summer. In September, the FDA agreed to extend the expiration date by three more months, which — according to the Florida Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie during a press conference last week — fell between the days of December 26, 2021, and December 30, 2021.
Last week, Director Guthrie also said they tried to give out the tests prior to the expiration, but there was no demand for them.
Governor DeSantis echoed that same sentiment during Wednesday morning’s press conference.
“It’s all contingent on demand,” said Governor DeSantis.
And during the press conference in Bonita Springs, DeSantis said that demand for testing increased in December.
This made the supply of the nearly one million COVID-19 tests the state already had urgently needed.
“The Division of Emergency Management has been asking for the extension for a long time and got no answer,” Governor DeSantis said.
According to the letter Action News Jax’s Courtney Cole obtained from the FDA, dated January 7, 2022, the agency is extending the expiration date of the Abbott Diagnostics BinaxNow COVID-19 test kits for three months.
This means they will be good for use until March.
But how do you know you can trust the accuracy of the results of these tests?
Cole reached out to each of our local hospitals and universities to ask this question to see if they had any experts who could answer this question, but no one was available for interview.
However, when she took this question directly to the FDA, James McKinney, with the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER) sent this response, that says, “The FDA is willing to work with manufacturers who submit data that supports extending the expiration date of their COVID-19 tests.”
So basically, the FDA is saying Abbott had to have data to prove that the tests can continue to work properly.
Although Abbott Diagnostics does make BinaxNow at-home COVID-19 test kits, those are not the ones Governor DeSantis is referring to.
The kits he’s talking about are produced for testing sites and require trained professionals to administer them.
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