Officials in Florida confirmed last week that between 800,000 and 1 million COVID tests expired in a warehouse shortly before the New Year due to “low demand.”
On January 7, the Food and Drug Administration issued a letter to Abbott Diagnostics, the manufacturer of the tests, stating that they had extended the shelf-life of the tests and that they could still be used.
According to the Florida Department of Health, thousands of BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card tests can be used until March. The FDA stated that the extension is based on the results of Abbott’s ongoing stability studies.
According to Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the Florida Department of Health, the tests are pre-packaged kits that must be administered by “trained individuals” and are not intended for individual use.
According to the Department of Health, the shelf life of the tests was extended in April. They were set to expire in September 2021.
Florida Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried discovered the stockpile of expired tests in December after someone “pretty high up in the governor’s office” revealed the information.
At last week’s press conference, DeSantis stated that the state initially intended to provide the tests to long-term care facilities, but the facilities claimed they didn’t have enough staff to administer them.
He claimed that Omicron was the cause of the most recent surge in demand and that there “wasn’t a lot of COVID going around” during the summer and fall.
According to the Florida Department of Health, “COVID cases were so low in Florida that there wasn’t enough demand to use the tests before they expired,” On July 30, Florida reported 21,683 new cases of COVID-19 — the most infections in a single day since the virus’s discovery.
In the week leading up to December 30, when the COVID test stockpile was made public, there were more than a million COVID tests performed in the state, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
More than 3 million tests were performed in the month leading up to that date.
Florida residents have also had trouble getting tests, according to mulitple reports, with long lines and few testing appointments available.