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FDA gives three-month extension to nearly 1 million COVID tests that expired in storage

 Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Bonita Springs on Wednesday.
Cary Barbor
Gov. Ron DeSantis speaks at a news conference in Bonita Springs on Wednesday.

The Food and Drug Administration has granted a three-month emergency-use extension for about 800,000 to 1 million COVID tests that had expired while in storage in Florida.

The Abbott BinaxNOW tests, which had expired in late December, are earmarked for emergency management offices, county health departments, hospitals and long-term care facilities, according to Gov. Ron DeSantis.

"Those are going to be sourced just like they would've been had they been authorized," DeSantis said Wednesday during a news conference in Bonita Springs.

State Division of Emergency Management Director Kevin Guthrie previously said that the tests had been stockpiled in September during a “downturn” in coronavirus cases that led to less demand. This was before the highly contagious omicron variant surged in Florida.

DeSantis said the state has been waiting for word from the FDA. An extension was also issued in September after a previous expiration date passed.

"Those three months were almost zero demand in Florida for testing because we had such low COVID prevalence," DeSantis said. "I think the department [Division of Emergency Management] basically was correct to not send if they may not have been accurate. So they needed the FDA to be able to say that."

DeSantis said the rapid COVID-19 test kits must be administered by health professionals.

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Rick Mayer