The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has extended the expiration date for nearly 1 million COVID-19 rapid tests that expired in a Florida warehouse at the end of December.
The shelf life of the expired COVID-19 rapid test kits, manufactured by Abbott Laboratories, has been pushed back three months to March, after expiring late last month.
It comes after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis’s administration received backlash after the Republican governor confirmed last week that the kits sat in a warehouse during the fall when demand was low.
Florida Department of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie told reporters last week that the tests expired “before Dec. 26 to Dec. 30.”
“We had between 800,000 and a million Abbott test kits in our warehouse that did expire,” he said, alongside DeSantis.
He said at the time that he would request an extension on their shelf life from the White House.
Responding to news of the three-month extension, Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a candidate for governor in the state, in a statement to the Miami Herald highlighted reports of lengthy lines for COVID-19 tests amid a surge in cases largely driven by the Omicron variant of the novel coronavirus.
“Floridians were waiting hours in lines to receive potentially lifesaving information while the state was sitting on expiring tests,” said Fried. “Now that we know their usage is going to be extended, my question for the governor is this: What is the plan to immediately get them out to the public?”
The Epoch Times has reached out to DeSantis’s office for comment.
Guthrie last week said “there was not a demand” for COVID-19 rapid tests before the kits expired.
Meanwhile, in December, footage of lengthy lines at a drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Miami went viral, showing cars bumper-to-bumper stretching into the distance.
A report by public health experts at the University of Florida last week forecast that “most of the state’s population” could be infected by the latest COVID-19 wave.
“It’s good news in the sense that the wave will be over certainly by the end of January,” said University of Florida professor Ira Longini, who was involved in the research. ”The bad news it’s going to be very intense for the next couple weeks with lots of cases and it probably will put a strain on our hospital resources.”
A British doctor meanwhile said he believes the Omicron strain of the novel coronavirus is the “first ray of light” toward COVID-19 turning endemic.
“The thing that might happen in the future is you may see the emergence of a new variant that is less severe, and ultimately, in the long-term, what happens is COVID becomes endemic and you have a less severe version. It’s very similar to the common cold that we’ve lived with for many years,” Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling (Spi-M) and a University of Warwick professor, told Times Radio on Jan. 8.