My ‘Free’ Covid Tests From the Government Arrived in Record Time… But There’s a Problem

News & Politics

I received four test kits,  the necessary supplies to conduct them, and an instruction booklet. So far, so good.

Unfortunately, there was a problem. The instructions on the box and on the enclosed instruction booklet say the tests must be stored at temperatures between 36-86 °F.

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My tests sat in my mailbox all day in frigid temperatures—well below the required minimum 36°.

PJM’s Athena Thorne warned about this problem last week:

CBS affiliate KREM looked into that very issue. “Do cold temperatures affect the results of an at-home COVID antigen test?” they wondered. They concluded that “The answer may vary depending on the brand,” before going on to list the storage temperature requirements for the leading test brands. Spoiler alert: the lowest temperature the most cold-tolerant of them can be stored at is 35.6º F. Tests that have been stored outside the recommended temperature parameters might still work … sometimes … or they might not. False-negative results are a worrisome possibility with tests that have been frozen, if they work at all.

I wasn’t able to track down any information from test manufacturer Roche Diagnostics or the FDA about what happens when the tests are exposed to extreme temperatures, but I did find a paper at the Journal of Clinical Virology that found “Impaired performance of SARS-CoV-2 antigen-detecting rapid diagnostic tests at elevated and low temperatures”: 

In summary, elevated temperatures impair sensitivity, whereas low temperatures impair specificity of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs [antigen detection rapid diagnostic test]. Consequences may include false-negative test results at clinically relevant virus concentrations compatible with transmission and false-positive results entailing unwarranted quarantine assignments. Storage and operation of SARS-CoV-2 Ag-RDTs at recommended conditions is essential for successful usage during the pandemic.

Athena asked, “Will these things even work?” I don’t know, but I wouldn’t bet my life on it, that’s for sure.

Recommended: Incompetent Biden Administration COVID Test Saga Continues: Will These Things Even Work?

The Biden administration said it is spending $4 billion—with a B—to deliver the first 500 million “free” tests to families across the country. Of course, informed PJM readers know that the tests aren’t free—they’re being paid for by We the People. Or at least We Who Actually Pay Taxes.

By the way, did you know the tests are being manufactured in the Republic of Korea? Korean workers are apparently doing the jobs Americans won’t do or something.

Did you receive your government Covid tests yet? Let me know in the comments. I’m interested to learn which parts of the country are getting theirs first.

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