As the coronavirus outbreak spreads across the US, a dangerous blood shortage threatens to create another public health crisis – with one medical director warning: “This could kill our patients.”
Coronavirus control methods mandate social distancing that has ranged from banning in-person seating in restaurants to closing schools to issuing shelter-in-place orders. Many places where blood donation might take place – such as campuses and libraries – are presently shuttered.
The result has been a disaster for blood donation as the medical sector finds its blood supplies running out.
The American Red Cross said that as of 19 March, more than 5,000 of its blood drives were canceled across the US over coronavirus concerns – resulting in approximately 170,000 fewer donations. More than 80% of donated blood collected from the Red Cross is from drives at places closed for social distancing: workplaces, schools, and college campuses.
“This could lead to mortality,” said Dr Jennifer Andrews, director of the blood bank at Vanderbilt University medical center and pediatric hematologist. “This could kill our patients.”