How to check if your COVID test is fake or recalled
Key points to remember
- The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is warning people to watch out for recalls or false home COVID-19 tests.
- In addition to the bogus tests, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recalled 200,000 test kits that had not been authorized.
- The federal government will begin sending COVID-19 test kits to Americans beginning in late January.
Now that COVID-19 tests are a hot commodity, people are trying to make sure they have enough on hand. If you’ve managed to get home COVID tests, you’re probably relieved. However, you need to be alert.
There have been reports of fraudulent testing in the market. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently recalled about 200,000 test kits that were not authorized.
Fortunately, the federal government will soon be mailing authorized and free rapid home antigen tests to anyone who wants them. However, help is coming a little late in the game. People have been rushing to storefronts in person and online to stock up on tests throughout the pandemic.
Recalled Test Kits
Recently, the FDA recalled 200,000 boxes of the Flowflex SARS-CoV-2 Rapid Antigen Test (self-test), which is manufactured by ACON Laboratories. The test does not have an Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) from the FDA. The recalled test is in a blue box while the approved version is in a white box.
However, ACON offers another test, the Flowflex COVID-19 Antigen Home Test, which Is it that have FDA clearance.
The recalls also affected Ellume’s home tests, which were allowed but showed too many false positives.
In addition to the recalled tests, fake test kits have also started circulating. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) warns consumers that bogus tests are not only a waste of money, they are also dangerous. Unreliable test results could mislead people with COVID-19 and contribute to the continued spread of the virus.
Fake tests and sites
Local and state public health departments also distributed home testing kits. While they may seem like a safe bet, some of these places have also fallen prey to unauthorized testing. At least one county in New York found it was distributing kits that had been recalled by the FDA and specifically two testing sites in Orange County distributed these unapproved tests.
Gigi Gronvall, PhD, a senior fellow at the Bloomberg School of Public Health’s Johns Hopkins Center for Security who works with the school’s COVID-19 testing toolkit, told Verywell that fake test sellers “are looking to make money fast.” ”
Gronvall is “not surprised at all” that rogue testing and sites have surfaced and said one of the reasons we’re in this situation is that we’ve taken “a market-based approach to testing.” throughout the pandemic.
Before the Delta variant appeared, there were plenty of rapid tests available, but the need for them has diminished as COVID vaccines have arrived. Since manufacturers cut production, the country was taken aback when new variants like Omicron appeared. Now, test makers have ramped up production again, but it’s lagging behind demand.
As demand for testing grew, sites offering rapid tests began popping up on city streets across the country. While most are valid and managed by health organizations, fraudulent sites have also appeared.
For example, fake sites in Chicago asked for users’ credit card information or social security numbers. Disclosure of this sensitive information, which should not be required for a true COVID test, exposes people to identity theft. In Philadelphia, a fake testing site claimed he worked for the Federal Emergency Management Agency, which was not true.
Sign that a test is real
Robert Amler, MD, MBA, dean of the School of Health Sciences and Practice at New York Medical College, told Verywell that the best indication a test is reliable is if it’s cleared by the FDA.
According to Amler, who is also the former Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Agency Chief Medical Officer for Toxic Substances and the Disease Registry, “many test descriptions indicate emergency use authorization. (EUA) from the FDA, but some may not show it.”
Your first step should be to carefully check the product packaging. It should describe the type of test and if it has any endorsements or endorsements. The packaging should also include instructions for using the test.
It is also important to know where you are buying a test. To avoid getting a test that isn’t the real deal, Gronvall suggested “go to a reputable retailer if you’re going to buy them.”
Conserve our supply of tests
Testing is still a crucial part of pandemic control. Although the most accurate COVID tests are those that detect very small amounts of the COVID-19 virus (polymerase chain reaction [PCR] or nucleic acid amplification tests [NAAT]), they are not always the easiest and fastest option.
There are situations where it makes sense to use home tests, which are rapid antigen tests. They detect viral proteins called antigens that tell if you have a current COVID-19 infection. You will usually get the results within half an hour and without having to leave your home.
“Remember that any positive test is a positive result, with extremely rare exceptions,” Amler said, but as a reminder, they added that the accuracy of any COVID-19 test depends on factors “such as the timing of specimen collection and whether the specimen was collected and handled correctly.”
For the most part, Amler said that “once you test positive, there is no longer any value or need for testing. Indeed, the health services ask you not to test again to avoid exhausting the shortage of test kits.
The bottom line? Once you have enough legitimate COVID-19 home tests for your household, think carefully before using them and try not to store more than you really need.
What this means for you
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has warned consumers to be careful of recalled or tampered tests for COVID-19. Fraudulent testing sites have also popped up in some cities.
Here are some resources to make sure the tests you get are legit:
- The FTC has information on how to avoid buying fake COVID tests here.
- The FDA has a list of authorized antigen and PCR tests here.
- You can now order 4 COVID-19 Antigen Test Kits to be mailed to your home by US Post. Orders will be shipped from the end of January.
The information in this article is current as of the date indicated, which means that more recent information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our coronavirus news page.