ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Panic buying is back and frenzied, but not for toilet paper this time. Now the hunt is on for at-home COVID test kits.
Because of the sudden upswing in demand, at-home test kits are in short supply around the US. However, as Americans consider buying up the stock as soon as its delivered, you should check the expiration.
“Here’s the delicate balance — we don’t want people to waste ‘em by any stretch of the imagination, but we don’t really expect you to hold onto them forever,” explains New York Assembly Member John McDonald.
McDonald is also a pharmacist and says his empty shelves where COVID test kits should be make him worry many out there are panic buying.
“I get very concerned about people just, ‘oh I ran into somebody yesterday that’s positive, I need to get tested today.’ No, you don’t need to get tested today unless you’re symptomatic,” he explains to NEWS10’s Mikhaela Singleton.
Many tests on the market only have an expiry date within two to three months. McDonald says this is due to the quick turnaround time companies had to start getting them out.
NYS just distributed thousands of kits to Capital Region parents for school age children with a use by date in February. While expired kits may give inaccurate results, the FDA has considered extending expirations as more data comes out from companies who developed the testing tools.
“We as pharmacists though only get those notices from the companies or the state to medical professionals in the industry within a week, maybe two weeks of that expiration date. So it’s hard to say if it will be extended, you never know it could or it could not,” he cautions.
McDonald says having a stockpile at home is also a bad idea because he and other pharmacists just got COVID antiviral medicine in stock, but they can’t give them out to those most in need unless they can test if a patient is positive.
“If there’s no tests to be able to get that test done in that five day period where that window of the drug’s effectiveness is, we run the risk of either a person advancing the disease or somebody trying to get that prescription for Paxil that’s at a point where it’s not going to be effective,” he says.
He urges healthy individuals to avoid giving in to fear and leaving test kits for those most at risk. Also before using or throwing away a kit you’re unsure about, McDonald suggests reaching out to wherever you got it from.
“Either call the company or check the website or talk to a healthcare professional to ask them if they think it’s going to be effective,” he advises.