People who have had COVID can donate blood without transmitting the virus, according to a study by the National Institutes of Health published Tuesday.
The results show that donors have less than a 1% chance of transmitting the virus, even though any symptoms and infections associated with COVID disappear 14 days before donating blood, according to U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.
The agency’s January 2021 guidelines require physical screening for COVID symptoms and infections. Individuals who test positive for COVID antibodies but have never developed symptoms or have received an MRI-based vaccine are able to donate without waiting 14 days. Any positive test for COVID should wait 14 days before donating, whether or not they have symptoms. There is no need to test donated blood samples. The researchers say the study proves that current guidelines succeed in preventing transmission.
“The results are good news for thousands of patients who may need blood transfusions due to surgery or disease,” said Dr. Simone Glynn, head of blood epidemiology and therapy. clinic at the National Lung, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI).
Of the 257,809 blood samples collected only three were positive for traces of COVID, showing that donors have a 100,000 chance of transmitting the virus. It has a probability of almost 0.001%, significantly less than the 62.3% probability associated with standing next to someone coughing in a room without a mask.
The study did not find a single instance of COVID transmission for a blood transfusion, said Sonia Bakkour, a scientist at the Vitalant Research Institute, who analyzed blood samples for the study.
Similar studies in Pakistan, Korea, China and France have shown that there is little risk of COVID contaminating national blood supply if guidelines are followed.
The results show that even donors who fear having COVID without having symptoms or suffering from persistent effects of the virus can donate blood without compromising national supply.
This fear led to thousands of blood units have been depleted and blood supply has fallen to critically low levels last March. Although COVID cases and COVID-related deaths continue to decline, many remain nervous about donating blood.
From June 2021, 49% of blood collection centers across the country are considered too low in supply to meet normal operating demands. About a quarter of the centers have less than a day of bleeding. In the Midwest blood centers, which account for more than the national blood supply than any other region, the majority have too low a supply to meet current demand.