Going back to work during this pandemic requires medical certification. Among the many ways to get that is via blood donation. While screening tests for blood donation may define the current status of the donor, none of those can confirm immunity against the virus. So, adhering to preventive measures remains critical at workplaces.
The details concerning blood donation and related screening tests in connection to going back to work were revealed by the Mayo Clinic, an American not-for-profit medical center. Even though a blood donor could get a go signal from medical certification, they must observe and follow preventive measures in the workplace. Also, even if a worker has recovered from the illness, there is no 100% guarantee that they will never be infected again.
Donating Blood to Receive Clearance for Employment
In some cities, public quarantine measures have been partially lifted to restart the economy. This means select sectors are allowed to operate again and some workers will able to earn a living once more. However, as part of the new normal, preventive measures like physical distancing and the use of face masks are enforced to prevent new outbreaks. Since workplaces are opening, companies will likely demand official certification that indicates returning workers are free of COVID-19. This applies to those who recovered and those who never got sick.
One potential way for people to obtain such certification is by donating blood. Because the virus of COVID-19 can be detected in blood samples, many may consider donating blood for two obvious reasons: the chance to receive official certification and help those in need of blood. As an extra, those who recovered from the novel disease may help those who are ill with their plasma, which contains antibodies.
Dr. Elitza S. Theel, a laboratory medicine expert in the Mayo Clinic, explained some aspects of screening procedures conducted on donated blood. The expert also provided precautions to those who might consider themselves immune against COVID-19 or those who were asymptomatic. Her primary advice for the public is to exercise caution until a vaccine is available or until science can prove immunity among survivors.
Donated blood is subject to two main types of screening tests: molecular and serologic. These two are used in conjunction with the qualification for convalescent plasma therapy, a technique used to treat COVID-19 and other illnesses. The therapy involves the introduction of antibodies that react to the illness of a patient. For example, the antibodies from a survivor of COVID-19 can be used to assist a patient with severe symptoms. The antibodies may boost the patient's recovery rate.
A molecular test, which usually requires nose swab samples, can detect the genetic material of the virus. This test can indicate if the person has been infected by the pathogen. On the other hand, a serologic test needs a blood sample to identify the presence of an immune response, specifically, antibodies. This test refers to antibody levels expressed by a person after being exposed to the virus. As the definitions suggest, one test is limited to detecting one side of the story. Because of that, one test cannot fully determine that the patient is clear of the virus.
If a person wants peace of mind, taking both tests will narrow down clinical interpretation. Since the results from both tests can give doctors more information, they have a better chance of providing an excellent medical opinion.
The Buzz in Blood Donation
Blood donation is always a need in hospitals. Every day, hospitals deal with blood transfusions and their blood banks require new supply. The easier way to obtain donor blood is via blood replacement requests. For instance, a patient needs blood type A-positive and the blood bank can provide it, but the hospital may ask the patient's family to find anyone who can donate blood as a replacement. The replacement does not have to be the same type. So, when the family finds possible donors, like people with O-positive blood, the hospital can accept them to fill the space in the blood bank. Nevertheless, hospitals will never say no to a blood donation.
In this pandemic, blood donation is getting some serious buzz due to convalescent plasma therapy. While the donation of those who recovered is significant, Dr. Theel said that several unknowns are yet to be answered. One of these unknowns is the duration of the resistance against the disease. Convalescent plasma therapy confirms that the human body can fight the infection by producing antibodies. But does the immune system feature the blueprint of antibodies for immediate production during reinfection?
Right now, science cannot determine if a survivor has resistance or immunity against the virus. If it does, there is still no concrete evidence of how long that resistance or immunity will last. Within the past four to five months of fighting the pandemic, medical scientists have remained uncertain about the level of immunity among patients who recovered. Though, preliminary studies conducted on animals suggest that the resistance or immunity is short-lived.
Situation Update on COVID-19 and Cholera
According to the World Health Organization, a specialized agency of the United Nations, the total confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally was 4,618,821, as of May 18, 2020. The Americas remained with the highest cases at 2,017,811, followed by Europe at 1,890,467, the Eastern Mediterranean at 338,560, Western Pacific at 168,515, Southeast Asia at 141,593, and Africa at 61,163. Deaths due to COVID-19 peaked at 311,847 worldwide. Europe was reported with the highest total deaths at 167,173, followed by the Americas at 121,609, the Eastern Mediterranean at 9,979, Western Pacific at 6,743, Southeast Asia at 4,582, and Africa 1,748.
The agency expressed great concern for Somalia, which has experienced intense flooding. The natural disaster spiked the cases of cholera, which could aggravate COVID-19 cases in the country. The situation could worsen as well due to the low humanitarian operations in the nation. As of May 18, 2020, 1,421 confirmed cases and 56 confirmed deaths were reported in Somalia. These cases were classified as sporadic or isolated outbursts of COVID-19.
Dr. Theel said that those who recovered from COVID-19 should consider donating blood. If they qualify, their plasma, or so-called "golden blood", may save another human being. Presently, plasma therapy for COVID-19 is normally administered to those with severe symptoms or who are in a critical state.