WHO's interim guidance on safe blood supply during the COVID-19 crisis

Amongst its many impacts, COVID-19 may affect the safety of blood and blood components. While respiratory viruses have never been reported to be transmitted through blood or blood components, this remains theoretically possible. It also affects availability, as there has been a decrease in blood donations. National blood authorities indicate that this trend might soon affect critical blood reserves. The United States, which is the largest exporter of blood products in the world, is now facing the highest increase of COVID-19 infections globally, and thus also sees rapidly decreasing blood donations. 

The WHO therefore has published on 20 March an interim guidance on maintaining a safe and adequate blood supply during the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19. Amongst the measures suggested, the WHO also considers that national rather than sub-national or local approaches should be adopted to ensure public confidence in blood safety and supply. Blood services should be included in the national outbreak responses. When it comes to the protection of blood donors and staff, the WHO calls for the safety of the donation process to be ensured through the use of appropriate protective measures by staff.

Regarding the reduction in blood donations, the guidance states that the situation should be monitored, and public awareness campaigns implemented. Symptomatic individuals should be excluded, as should persons fully recovered from COVID-19 and those who travelled to high-risk areas should be excluded for at least 28 days. This may change depending on how the situation progresses in order to ensure availability of blood for critical transfusion therapies. 

The interim guidance can be accessed here

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