Blood donation key to strengthening COVID-19 response: WHO

Countries must invest in robust infrastructure and public awareness campaigns to boost donation of safe blood and strengthen the response to COVID-19 pandemic, a senior World Health Organization (WHO) official said on Sunday on the occasion of World Blood Donor Day.

Matshidiso Moeti, WHO Regional Director for Africa, said that governments should roll out incentives that promote the donation of safe blood amid shortages of the commodity during COVID-19 pandemic.

“In the COVID-19 pandemic, the supply of safe blood is at risk. Regular blood donation drives are being postponed, and stay-at-home orders and fear of infection are preventing donors from accessing services,” said Moeti, Xinhua reported.

According to Moeti, the disruptions to the global supply chain linked to the disease had already worsened the shortage of equipment required to facilitate blood donation and transfusion.

Moeti said that the use of blood plasma from patients who had recovered from COVID-19 to minimize severity of the disease to those infected reaffirmed the need for countries to have an adequate supply of the commodity.

She hailed efforts by African countries to ramp up blood donation in order to support the use of plasma in the treatment of COVID-19 amid a spike in the number of cases in the continent.

“In Mauritius, 150 people who have recovered from COVID-19 have indicated they are willing to give plasma in line with the national decision to use serum plasma therapy for COVID-19 patients in intensive care,” said Moeti.

She said the pandemic presents African countries with an opportunity to improve their national blood donation services and ensure they collect, process and store COVID-19 convalescent plasma in a safe manner.