COVID-19 and blood for transfusion availability
Background/case studies: The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic disrupted the global blood supply. Low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) already experienced blood supply deficits that preceded the pandemic. We sought to characterize the challenges experienced during the pandemic, and adaptations, such as COVID-19 convalescent plasma (CCP).
Study design/methods: A cross-sectional survey explored blood availability, challenges, and adaptations. The survey contained 31 questions, e-mailed in English, French, or Spanish, to selected LMIC blood transfusion practitioners. Data acquisition occurred between October 28 and December 28, 2020. A mixed methods analysis followed.
Results/findings: A total of 31 responses from 111 invitations represented 26 LMIC countries. Languages included English (22, 71%), Spanish (7, 22.6%), and French (2, 6.4%). Most respondents (29/31, 93.5%) collected blood; 58% also transfused blood (18/31). The supply of blood came from hospital-based blood donations (61%, 11/18); blood suppliers (17%, 3/18); and both sources (22%, 4/18). Collectively, 77.4% (24/31) of respondents experienced a decline in blood availability, ranging from 10% to 50%. Contributing factors included public fear of COVID-19 (21/24); stay-at-home measures (18/24); logistics (14/24); and canceled blood drives (16/24). Adaptations included increased collaboration within and between institutions (17/27), donor eligibility changes (21/31); social media or phone promotion (22/39); and replacement donation (3/27). Fifteen of 31 responses reported CCP donation (48.4%); CCP transfusion occurred in 6 (19.4%). The primary barrier was engaging recovered patients for donation (7/15).
Conclusion: Our survey describes challenges experienced by LMIC blood systems during the COVID-19 pandemic. While the decline in blood supplies was severe, adaptive measures included collaboration, outreach, and CCP programs.
Barnes LS, Al-Riyami AZ, Ipe TS, Bloch EM, Sibinga CS, Eichbaum QG. COVID-19 and the impact on blood availability and transfusion practices in low- and middle-income countries. Transfusion. 2022 Jan 13. doi: 10.1111/trf.16798. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35023585.