Do cold Covid tests work?

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Many of you signed up for free at-home COVID tests from the federal government.

Some of those tests should start arriving soon, if they haven’t already.

What happens if they sit in a mailbox in near zero-degree weather? Are your tests still good if they’ve been exposed to a Wisconsin winter? We reached out to three at-home test manufacturers.

Quidel, who makes the QuickVue test, says in a statement the tests should be stored at room temperature, but has studied them under heat and cold, and found they perform as expected. Here is their full statement to us:

"The QuickVue At-Home OTC COVID-19 Test should always be stored upon receipt according to the temperature printed on the kit box (59°F to 86°F or 15°C to 30°C). Quidel has performed studies that demonstrate the product performs as expected under different temperature conditions (i.e., heated and frozen conditions) encountered during shipping. If you have any concerns about the shipping conditions of your test kit, please contact the retailer where you purchased the test."

Abbott, who makes the BinaxNOW test, says that if the test is stored outside their temperature range for a relatively short period of time, up to a couple of days, the test will be fine to use. Their statement:

"A storage temperature range is very common in OTC health products. For BinaxNOW, it’s between 35.6 and 86° F and the test should be kept within this range. 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 that test and its components be used at room temperature."

Ellume pointed to a warning on their literature that says “if the product is exposed to extreme temperature and humidity, that could be damaging to the test reagents. But also said a damaged test will not return a false positive or a false negative, it will give a “test error” result. Their statement:

"The test contains a second internal control immunoassay whose biological reagents will fail and will trigger a ‘Test Error’ result rather than a false negative result to the user if the product is exposed to extreme temperature and humidity that could be damaging to the test reagents and therefore mitigates the user from receiving a false negative result."

Bottom line, your test is probably fine if it sits out in the cold for a reasonable period of time.

But do your best to get your tests inside as soon as possible, and make sure that they return to room temperature before you use one.

Did order your free tests yet? Do it here: https://www.covidtests.gov/.

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