Red Cross blood donation testing for COVID-19 antibodies help patients battling coronavirus

Sept. 28, 2020

Beginning in mid-September, plasma from whole blood donations made through the American Red Cross (ARC) that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may now help coronavirus patients in need of convalescent plasma transfusions, according to a press release. This opportunity to help meet the needs of COVID-19 patients is especially critical as infectious disease experts express concern about a potential second wave of cases in the fall.

In April, the Red Cross began collecting COVID-19 convalescent plasma from previously diagnosed individuals, who could only give at one of approximately 170 Red Cross blood donation centers across the country. Convalescent plasma contains COVID-19 antibodies that may help the most critical patients actively fighting this virus. Now, whole blood and donations made at any Red Cross blood drive or blood donation center may be helpful in this effort.

“With only 2 percent of the U.S. population testing positive for COVID-19, finding eligible convalescent plasma donors to help patients is a little like finding a needle in a haystack,” says Pampee Young, MD, PhD, chief medical officer, American Red Cross. “Being able to use the plasma from all blood donations that test positive for COVID-19 antibodies is a game changer in helping to build a readily available supply of convalescent plasma to ensure patients have access to all treatment options available to help them recover from this terrible virus.”

The Red Cross recently began secondary testing of donations that come back positive to confirm COVID-19 antibody test results. This enables the Red Cross to potentially use the plasma from those donations to aid coronavirus patients. These tests are also critical in helping to identify individuals who have COVID-19 antibodies and may qualify as convalescent plasma donors for future donation.

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