The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) extended the expiration date for almost a million COVID-19 rapid tests that first expired in a Florida warehouse in September.
The FDA was able to extend the expiration date for the tests for three months using the product's emergency use authorization. The tests had already expired once in September and were extended until late December by the federal government at that time, according to the Miami Herald.
In a Jan. 7 letter to the FDA obtained by the Herald, Abbott Diagnostics, the company that made the kits, proved that if stored at room temperature, the kits were stable for 15 months, a timeline that allowed for the additional three-month extension.
“Floridians were waiting hours in lines to receive potentially lifesaving information while the state was sitting on expiring tests,” Agriculture Commissioner Nikki Fried, a candidate for governor in Florida, wrote in a statement to the Herald. “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?”
As the omicron variant has fueled a spike in COVID-19 infections in Florida, a group of Democratic members of Congress from Florida wrote to Gov. Ron DeSantisRon DeSantisThe Hill's Morning Report - Democrats sense opportunity with SCOTUS vacancy Broward County Sheriff sacks deputy union head amid COVID-19 dispute Biden leading Trump, DeSantis by similar margins in new poll MORE (R) on Monday urging him to utilize federal assistance to expand COVID-19 testing in the state.
The state has endured a surge in COVID-19 cases in recent weeks. The Florida Department of Health reported 397,114 new COVID-19 cases for the most recent data from Dec. 31 to Jan. 6. That data marked an increase from 297,888 cases the week of Dec. 24 and 128,151 the week of Dec. 17.