Red Cross to begin testing donor blood for COVID-19 antibodies

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The American Red Cross will now test all blood, plasma and platelet donations for COVID-19 antibodies, the organization announced on Monday.

The test will show whether the donor’s immune system has produced the antibodies for the coronavirus, even if the person has not had symptoms.

The antibody test, which is authorized by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, does not diagnose donors with a current infection.

Donors can expect results within seven to 10 days either on the Red Cross Blood Donor App or website.

“During these uncertain times, the Red Cross hopes that testing for COVID-19 antibodies will provide its valued donors insight into whether they may have been exposed to this coronavirus,” the Red Cross said in a news release.

The Red Cross hopes the tests will increase interest in donation, which has dropped off severely since the pandemic began.

Blood is perishable and cannot be stockpiled. The FDA loosened eligibility guidelines in April to expand the pool of possible donors.

“There is an urgent need for blood donations right now 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,” the Red Cross said.

Blood drives are still being canceled “as many businesses and community organizations restrict the number of individuals at their locations, creating challenges for a stable blood supply.”

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.

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