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April 15, 2020

Researchers in both China and South Korea have identified SARS-CoV-2 in routine blood donations. In China, 2,430 blood donations (1,656 platelet and 774 whole blood) collected between January 25, 2020 and March 4, 2020 were screened by real-time reverse transcription PCR for SARS-CoV-2; in addition, almost 5,000 samples collected between December 21, 2019 and January 22, 2020 were retrospectively tested. Four samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2. All four blood donors were asymptomatic at the time of collection, but two developed fevers the day after donation. In South Korea, seven donors who later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (6 -15 days post-donation) were identified by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the South Korean Red Cross Blood Services were subsequently notified. All seven samples (6 whole blood and 1 source plasma) were negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. However, 6 platelet units and 3 RBC units had already been transfused into 9 patients. Eight of the transfusion recipients did not develop symptoms related to COVID-19, and the 9th died of causes unrelated to COVID-19. No transfusion-transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been observed in China or South Korea, but medical staff and blood collection establishments must remain vigilant and in close contact with donors and health authorities for cross-referencing SARS-CoV-2 positive donations and recipients. Further research is needed to confirm the presence or absence of virions in blood products and whether these virions are infectious.

References:

1. Chang L, Zhao L, Gong H, Wang Lunan, Wang L. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RNA detected in blood donations. Emerg Infect Dis 2020 Jul; 26(7)

2. Kwon SY, Kim EJ, Jung YS, Jang JS, Cho NS. Post-donation COVID-19 identification of blood donors. Vox Sang 2020

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