Careful! Some Quick COVID-19 Tests Have Short Expiration Date

This Was a Surprise as We Planned a Trip for the Spring

U.S. National Institutes of Health

After using these quick tests, we had an unpleasant surprise.

COVID-19 quick self tests helped our family last summer. We traveled cross country by car, had the two vaccine shots that were available at the time, used N95 masks where appropriate, and kept some distance when we met people. We also used an Abbott BinaxNOW self test once after encountering an obnoxious anti-vaxxer. We ran the test twice and got two negatives. Now we are planning a trip for Spring and got a surprise.

We had a few of the self tests unopened and would use them for the trip. As I set them aside for the trip, I noticed a tiny label on the back of the box. It had what appeared to be an hour glass and a date. One was 2022–02–21, another box was labelled 2022–03–17. These appeared to be expiration dates. The label did not say “expiration date” but just showed a tiny hour glass. The components inside the box had hour glasses also, and the closest date was also 2022–02–21 as was on the box. That was for the card that contains the things that change color and tell you whether the result was positive or negative. The swab package was 2026 and the solution vial had numbers that were meaningless.

We purchased these not long ago and expected that they would not expire for another year or two like normal drugs. Not so!

This was a surprise in more ways than one. First, I would expect either the FDA or the manufacturer to use plain English (and perhaps Spanish and French) and the terms “Expiration Date” as we would find on most prescription drugs. The hour glass is fine, but is almost hidden on the label. I think it means that the kit is not reliable after that date. I would also expect, given that COVID-19 can have serious health effects, the expiration date would be right on the front of the every package. Instead it is in a corner on the back.

Looks like we will need new test kits for some of our trip that will extend beyond the dates on our packages. I hope we can get them through the new government website.




Writer, inventor, maker. Member of startup. Applied physics, electronics, microbiology.

Love podcasts or audiobooks? Learn on the go with our new app.

Recommended from Medium

The world will never be truly rid of Covid-19 until COVID-19 vaccine is accessible to all


India, Covid, Me and my first encounter with death

Governors Ordered to Step Up Efforts to Fight Omicron BA 2

Measuring the COVID-19 Policy Response Around the World

COVID-19 mRNA Vaccines: Emperor’s New Clothes

Nation Ready for Deltacron Covid-19 Coronavirus Variant

Thailand Records its Eighth Case of Omicron Coronavirus Variant

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Mark Senninger

Mark Senninger

Writer, inventor, maker. Member of startup. Applied physics, electronics, microbiology.

More from Medium

Halley’s Comet: An Astronomical Event or Disastrous Destruction

The Chagrin of Missing the Bread Crumb Trail

The Wandering Musician — Chicago, Day 4

Beauty and Life around Lake Baikal // Photo Gallery

Sandy shores of the southern coast of Baikal. Flowers.