Red Cross to test donated blood for COVID-19 antibodies

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – From now on, when someone donates blood, plasma or platelets, the Red Cross will test the donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

“That’s going to indicate to the donor a positive or negative test result indicating that you have had exposure to the coronavirus,” said Lauren McGuire, from the American Red Cross.

However, according to McGuire, a positive antibody test does not indicate immunity to the virus, only that the donor has been exposed. But if you know that you’ve been exposed, Red Cross officials urge you to donate plasma.

“What I can say is the mentality, the thought would be, the option of plasma therapy being a supportive option treatment with COVID,” said infection preventionist at Gundersen Health System, Bridget Pfaff.

The FDA said those who have recovered from COVID-19, are encouraged to donate plasma because in some cases, it’s been shown to help those critically ill who are battling the virus.

“Blood donations are so important right now and it’s something that we’ve been really trying to promote in the community,” said Pfaff.

The Red Cross said its donation sites have implemented COVID-19 safety precautions, such as socially distanced seating, extra cleaning, and screenings when you arrive.

If you choose to donate blood to get antibody results…

“Donors are going to have to wait seven to 10 days, for the processing of their blood to get a positive or negative result,” said McGuire.

The Red Cross wants to remind people that donating blood and getting the antibody test is free.