Coronavirus Epidemic Exacerbates Global Blood Shortage

The persisting coronavirus epidemic is drying up Asian blood banks, further increasing the global blood shortage. Blood supplies fail the demand for emergency aid and other transfusion treatments. As a result patients are left to their own devices. The National Institute of Hematology and Blood transfusion (NIHBT) in Vietnam reported to have collected just 226 blood units in 10 days. A number that doesn’t nearly reach the 1500 blood units Vietnam patients are in need of each day. Many institutes have put in extensive efforts to organize blood donations events. However, because of the spread of the coronavirus in China, events to be postponed or cancelled.

The blood shortages caused by the coronavirus epidemic are expected to last for several more weeks. Institutes like the NIHBT continue to encourage blood donation of the widely compatible A and O blood types. The Chinese government is urges patients who have recovered from the coronavirus to give blood for the treatment of the critically ill coronapatients.

The Effect On Blood Safety Remains Unclear

At the moment there are no data or precedent describing the impact on blood safety. Regulatory bodies such as the FDA have not yet provided guidance or new recommendations to blood banks. However, local blood establishment may choose to implement more restrictive donor eligibility and deferral policies based on their concerns.

Millions Of Patients Suffering Unnecessarily Due To Global Blood Shortage

Recently a first global estimation of blood supplies revealed a critical global blood shortage of 30 million units. The United States recently struggled with shortages after blood supplies dried up during the last holiday season. While in other countries, the crisis surround blood supplies continues to escalate. Kenyan blood banks are now completely running dry after the U.S. government ended aid for the nation’s blood transfusion service. Leaving baby’s like Sheilla Munjiru in desperate need for blood.

The millions of patients suffering of dying unnecessarily due to unavailability of transfusion blood make alternative approaches to blood supply more necessary than ever. One such approach is broader use of patients’ own blood for transfusion. Also, referred to as autologous blood transfusion or cell salvage.

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