The American Red Cross has begun testing all blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

The Red Cross hopes that testing for COVID-19 antibodies will provide its donors insight into whether they may have been exposed to this coronavirus.

The antibody test is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether an individual developed symptoms.

For the next few months, Red Cross blood, platelet and plasma donations will be tested using samples obtained at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory, where the samples will also undergo routine screening and infectious disease testing. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.

“As a humanitarian organization and member of the broader health community, the Red Cross has adapted our services to help meet the needs of this extraordinary time,” said Chris Hrouda, president of Red Cross Biomedical Services. “We recognize that individuals and public health organizations desire more information about COVID-19, and as an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is fortunate to be able to help during this pandemic.”

There is an urgent need for blood donations 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. 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.

To schedule an appointment to give blood, visit RedCrossBlood.org, use the Red Cross Blood Donor App, call 1-800-RED-CROSS or activate the Blood Scheduling Skill for Amazon Alexa.

Red Cross donors can expect to receive the results of their antibody test within 7 to 10 days through the Red Cross Blood Donor App or on the donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

With the start of antibody testing, the Red Cross anticipates increased interest in blood donation appointments in the coming days. If there is not an appointment immediately available in a given area, donations in the days and weeks ahead are still critically important to ensure a stable blood supply throughout the difficult summer months.

The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness, referred to as a diagnostic test. To protect the health and safety of staff and donors, it is important that individuals who do not feel well to postpone their donation.

It is important to note that walk-in donors may not be able to be accommodated at drives because of social distancing, so the Red Cross is asking that all donors schedule an appointment in advance. The Red Cross also requires all donors to wear a face covering or mask while at the drive, in alignment with Centers for Disease Control public guidance.

Each Red Cross blood drive and donation center follows the highest standards of safety and infection control. To ensure the health of staff and donors, precautions include:

Checking temperatures of staff and donors before entering a drive to make sure they are healthy.

Providing hand sanitizer for use before entering the drives, as well as throughout the donation process.

Following social distancing between donors including entry, donation and refreshment areas.

Ensuring face masks or coverings are worn by both staff and donors.

Routinely disinfecting surfaces, equipment and donor touched areas.

Wearing gloves, and changing gloves often.

Using sterile collection sets and an aseptic scrub for every donation.

In most states, individuals who are 17 years of age (16 with parental consent where allowed by state law), weigh at least 110 pounds and are in generally good health may be eligible to donate blood. High school students and other donors 18 years of age and younger also have to meet certain height and weight requirements.

To save up to 15 minutes at the blood drive, donors are encouraged to complete a RapidPass. With RapidPass, donors complete the pre-donation reading and health history questionnaire online, on the day of donation, from a mobile device or computer. To complete a RapidPass, follow the instructions at Red-CrossBlood.org/RapidPass or use the Red Cross Blood Donor App.

From the American Red Cross

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