As people begin to return to more normal activities, elective surgeries that were delayed during the peak of the pandemic are beginning to take place and the demand for blood continues to grow. With an urgent need for blood and platelets, the American Red Cross has announced it will test all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies.
The additional health service for donors will assess if the immune system has responded to exposure to the Novel Coronavirus whether or not a person has experienced common symptoms of the disease. Antibody testing does not indicate if the virus is currently present and donors should not schedule a donation if they are feeling unwell for any reason, waiting until they have been symptom-free for at least 28 days and are feeling healthy and well before making an appointment.
Donors will be able to see the results of their antibody test by logging into their online account or the Blood Donor App about 7 to 10 days following donation. A blood donor can also check their body temperature, blood pressure, pulse rate, and iron levels after each donation, serving as a mini-physical.
Although a positive antibody test for COVID-19 may indicate you have been exposed to the virus, the testing is not meant to diagnose any illness and does not confirm either infection or immunity. Donors who test positive may be eligible to take part in the Red Cross Convalescent Plasma Donation Program. In partnership with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Red Cross is seeking people who have fully recovered from COVID-19 to donate plasma to help current coronavirus patients who have a serious or life-threatening infection. Antibodies in plasma of recovered patients can attack the virus, helping to treat high-risk patients.
Canadian donors can also help fight COVID-19 by registering to donate convalescent plasma through the Canadian Blood Services. Regular donors must book an appointment online and wear face masks, practice social distancing, sanitize hands, and receive a temperature check upon arrival.