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How to store Covid tests during the heatwave to avoid damage

A pharmacist explains why it is important to store lateral flow tests correctly.

You wouldn’t leave milk or food in the heat for too long – but what about lateral flow testing?

With temperatures in many parts of the country set to exceed 30C in the coming days and week, anyone having Covid tests at home may want to know how to store them properly – as too hot could damage them and alter their effectiveness.

“With temperatures reaching levels in the UK that are largely unknown, it is completely understandable to worry about the safe storage of your lateral flow test kits. Regular testing is one of the most important measures to protect against Covid-19, so taking good care of the tests is really vital, to ensure you get the most accurate results,” says Giulia Guerrini, Pharmacist in Chief at Medino Digital Pharmacy (medino.com).

“NHS advice is that your lateral flow test kits should be stored out of direct sunlight, between 2°C and 30°C.

“That being said, you shouldn’t refrigerate them either, as storing your lateral flow kits in very cold temperatures can also reduce their reliability,” adds Guerrini.

So unless you’re lucky enough to have air conditioning throughout your home and it’s naturally cool, you might want to think about where your lateral flow tests are kept. It’s essential to keep them out of direct sunlight at all times – so be sure to keep them away from areas like window sills and countertops near windows that get lots of sunlight.

“The easiest way to ensure your lateral flow kits stay in the best possible condition, whatever the weather, is to store them in a cool, dry place out of direct sunlight,” says Guerrini.

“For example, a medicine cabinet, a kitchen cupboard or a drawer will all protect the integrity of the tests, even in a heat wave.”

Why must Covid tests stay within this range?

“Storing the test at higher temperatures can irreversibly damage the swab, as well as the chemicals used in the test,” Guerrini says.

“This means that when it comes time to take a test, your results will not be entirely reliable because the chemical composition of the test will be changed.”