Millions of COVID-19 Tests Granted Extended Shelf Life, DeSantis Says

By Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern
Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Florida.
January 13, 2022 Updated: January 13, 2022

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said one million expired COVID-19 test kits have been given an extension by the Food and Drug Administration and will be “sourced out” to health departments and other larger testing sites.

The governor said in a press conference on Jan. 12 that much of the information about the COVID tests has been reported “inaccurately.” He noted that the kits in question aren’t for “at-home” use, but come 40 tests to a box and are to be administered by a professional.

“You just can’t send those into someone’s home.”

Epoch Times Photo
Volunteers hand out boxes of COVID-19 rapid antigen Lateral Flow Tests (LFT), in northeast London, on Jan. 3, 2022. (Tolga Akmen/AFP via Getty Images)

The kits originally expired in September 2021, but the FDA extended the date to December and once again another 90 days.

On Dec. 30, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Nikki Fried called a news conference and accused the governor of hoarding test kits to the point of expiration.

“It’s come to my attention that Governor DeSantis’ Department of Health has a significant number of COVID-19 tests stockpiled that are set to expire imminently,” she stated. “Given the governor’s lack of transparency throughout this pandemic, there’s no known public information about these tests or how soon they expire.”

DeSantis said the tests Fried was referring to were part of a shipment Florida received in the summer when the state saw a dramatic decrease in COVID-19 case numbers for three months.

When the Omicron variant emerged, testing rose as politicians chose to “whip people up in a frenzy,” the governor said.

“The Abbott tests were tests from a while ago and had expired at the end of summer,” he told reporters. “Then the FDA agreed to extend those tests for three months, but in those three months, there was almost zero demand in Florida for testing because we had such low COVID prevalence.”

DeSantis went on to say that the extension was for the end of December when cases were “ramping up.”

The Florida Department of Health has received a letter giving the tests another extension that will expire in March.

BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test
A BinaxNOW rapid COVID-19 test made by Abbott Laboratories is shown in Tacoma, Wash., on Feb. 3, 2021. (Ted S. Warren/AP Photo)

“We’re glad the FDA granted an extension for shelf-life for the BinaxNOW COVID-19 Ag Card tests,” Jeremy Redfern, press secretary for the health department, said in an emailed statement.  “COVID cases were so low in Florida that there wasn’t enough demand to use the tests before they expired on Jan. 10, 2022.”

The governor said with the extension granted, the health department is continuing to distribute test kits to county emergency management offices, county health departments, public safety agencies, hospitals, and long-term care facilities.

Kevin Guthrie, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, said the state secured nearly a million at-home tests and began sending out the first supplies on Jan. 6 to nursing homes and senior care facilities.

The number of tests shipped will be dependent upon how many beds the facility has. Those sites can then ask for more kits if they’re needed, he said.

Jannis Falkenstern is an Epoch Times reporter who covers the state of Florida.