The Biden administration has launched COVIDTests.gov website, set up for U.S. households to order four free at-home tests that will take a week to 12 days to arrive via mail, but there are concerns that extreme temperatures can render the tests ineffective.
At-home tests have temperature ranges for storage, putting a spotlight on shipping through extreme cold in the winter or to extremely warm areas of the Southern states.
WBNS-10 in Columbus, Ohio, conducted a verification report on the issue, and Dr. Amesh Adalja, senior scholar at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, noted that the tests have temperature ranges because of the Food and Drug Administration.
''It's important to remember that when a test kit gets licensed by the FDA, there's a lot of parameters that the FDA evaluates and a lot of data that the companies have to submit,'' Adalja told the TV station.
''And they'll also, as part of that, they'll say what temperature they started out. And there may be a number that they'll say there's a range where this was actually tested. But that doesn't necessarily mean that it's not going to work. If there was a lapse, they probably still do work,'' he said.
Quidel, which makes the QuickVue at-home test, said that shipping has not adversely affected its test results.
''The QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test should always be stored upon receipt according to the temperature printed on the kit box (59 degrees F to 86 degrees F or 15 degrees C to 30 degrees C),'' a Quidel spokesperson write to WBNS. ''Quidel has performed studies that demonstrate the product performs as expected under different temperature conditions (i.e., heated and frozen conditions) encountered during shipping.''
Storage recommendations are subtle among a few of the at-home tests, according to the report.
''For BinaxNOW, it's between 35.6 and 86 degrees F, and the test should be kept within this range,'' an Abbott Laboratories spokesman told WBNS. ''But if the test is stored outside the temperature range for a relatively short period of time — for a couple of hours up to a day or two — it will be fine to use, and it's important is that test and its components be used at room temperature.''
The iHealth Labs website says that storage outside the range ''may affect the quality of test results.''
''The manufacturer of the iHealth® COVID-19 Antigen Rapid Test requires test kits be stored at temperatures between 36 degrees and 86 degrees Farenheit (2 degrees - 30 degrees Celsius),'' its website read. ''Any extended exposure of the test kit to temperatures beyond this range may affect the quality of test results.''
U.S. households can secure four tests at no cost when ordering from the website, with shipping expected within seven to 12 days of ordering, the White House said Friday.
Newsmax processed an order while compiling this report and needed just a name, mailing address and email address to process it in less than a minute. The shipping information is tied to the U.S. Postal Service.
''COVID-19 tests will start shipping in late January,'' a disclaimer atop the receipt read Tuesday. ''USPS will only send one set of 4 free at-home COVID-19 tests to valid residential addresses.''
President Joe Biden has pledged to procure 1 billion free tests for people, and more may be ordered in the future. His administration has come under criticism for not focusing on testing sooner. Americans waited in long lines for tests over the holidays amid a shortage.
The administration and the Postal Service have sought to avoid any major glitches in the new website like those that overshadowed the rollout of Healthcare.gov, the website for the Affordable Care Act established under President Barack Obama.
''We can't guarantee there won't be a bug or two, but the best tech teams across the administration and the Postal Service are working hard to make this a success,'' White House spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Tuesday. ''It will officially launch tomorrow morning. It's in the beta testing phase right now.''
Psaki noted that the U.S. Digital Service, which she said was founded after the plagued rollout of Healthcare.gov, has been supporting the Postal Service with the site.
More than 700,000 people were accessing COVIDtests.gov at one point Tuesday, according to the Digital Analytics Program.
Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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