Is it safe to donate blood during the pandemic?

is it safe to give blood donation
Photo via Armed Services Blood Program/Flickr (Public Domain)

Experts say that not only is it safe to donate blood during the COVID-19 pandemic, but it is also crucial that people continue to give during this time. 

The Red Cross reports that the nonprofit has an “urgent need” for blood and platelet donations. To entice more volunteers, the Red Cross is temporarily offering to test blood donated for COVID-19 antibodies. 

“There is no known end date in this fight against coronavirus, and the Red Cross urgently needs the help of blood and platelet donors and blood drive hosts to meet the needs of patient care,” its website said. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says it’s safe to donate blood as long as the facilities and individuals adhere to CDC guidelines. 

CDC guidelines that the Red Cross is following include:  

  • Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a blood drive
  • Asking staff and donors to wear a mask the entire time in the facility
  • Asking staff and donors to wash hands or use hand sanitizer upon entry and exit of the facility 
  • Cleaning and disinfecting all surfaces with EPA-approved products
  • Arranging seating in the waiting area at least six feet apart
  • Arranging donor cots during blood collection so that donors are at least six feet apart 
  • Staff is wearing gloves and changing them often
  • Staff is using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation

Medical News Today reports that when shelter-in-place orders went into effect around the country, blood centers saw a steep drop in donations. 

Dr. Peter Marks, Director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, told Medical News Today that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused “unprecedented challenges” to the U.S. blood supply. 

“Donor centers have experienced a dramatic reduction in donations due to the implementation of physical distancing and the cancellation of blood drives,” he said. 

The Red Cross echoed that concern in a statement released on June 15. 

“There is an urgent need for blood donations right now, to meet the needs of patients in hospitals as surgical procedures and treatments that were temporarily paused earlier this spring in response to COVID-19 resume,” the statement says. “At the same time, blood drives continue to be canceled, as many businesses and community organizations restrict the number of individuals at their locations creating challenges for a stable blood supply. It’s important to remember that blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled.” 

Is it safe:

Sources: Red Cross, CDC, Medical News Today 

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