HUNTINGTON — The pandemic has created a greater need for blood, and the American Red Cross has a new pandemic-related tool that may entice donors.
Beginning this week, all blood, platelet and plasma donations will be tested for COVID-19 antibodies, which show if a person has been exposed to the virus.
Antibody testing will indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to this coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms. Donations will be tested using samples pulled at the time of donation and sent to a testing laboratory where they will also undergo routine infectious disease testing. A positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity.
COVID-19 antibody test results will be available within seven to 10 days in the Red Cross Blood Donor App or donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org. The test has been authorized for emergency use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
“As an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is pleased to provide more information about COVID-19 to our valued donors,” said Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with the Red Cross Biomedical Services, in a release. “If you are feeling healthy and well, please schedule an appointment to not only help saves lives but also learn about your potential exposure to COVID-19.”
The Red Cross is not testing donors to diagnose illness. Donors in June will also receive a $5 Amazon gift card.
While the antibody testing may pique the interest of someone on the fence about donating blood, experts say generally, antibody testing is not that helpful.
Dr. Clay Marsh, coronavirus czar, said Wednesday that in West Virginia, the test is best used to show someone has fully recovered from a positive COVID-19 diagnostic test.
Marsh said densely affected locations like New York City are reporting up to 23% of antibody tests are positive. In Sweden, which needs 70% of the country to be exposed to the virus to claim “herd immunity,” just 7% of antibody testing has been positive.
In West Virginia, where so little of the population has been tested for the virus and with some communities still not having any positive cases and little chance of exposure, the testing would not provide any illuminating information as a whole.
“For particular sub-groups of people — first responders, hospital personnel, people who have been infected already, people that might want to donate serum with antibodies to maybe help others become immune — that is where it could be helpful in West Virginia,” Marsh said.
There were 35 new positive cases of COVID-19 reported statewide Wednesday, for a total of 2,376, and 4,298 test results were received by the state. No new deaths were reported, keeping the total at 88.
Cases per county (case confirmed by lab test/probable case) are: Barbour (11/0), Berkeley (389/18), Boone (20/0), Braxton (3/0), Brooke (5/1), Cabell (75/2), Calhoun (2/0), Clay (10/0), Fayette (54/0), Gilmer (10/0), Grant (15/1), Greenbrier (37/0), Hampshire (40/0), Hancock (18/2), Hardy (40/1), Harrison (48/1), Jackson (141/0), Jefferson (208/5), Kanawha (246/7), Lewis (8/0), Lincoln (5/0), Logan (21/0), Marion (51 /2), Marshall (37/1), Mason (15/0), McDowell (6/0), Mercer (15/0), Mineral (50/2), Mingo (9/3), Monongalia (133/14), Monroe (8/1), Morgan (18/1), Nicholas (7/0), Ohio (58/0), Pendleton (12/1), Pleasants (3/1), Pocahontas (20/1), Preston (22/7), Putnam (39/1), Raleigh (26/1), Randolph (144/0), Ritchie (2/0), Roane (11/0), Summers (1/0), Taylor (11/1), Tucker (5/0), Tyler (3/0), Upshur (8/1), Wayne (105/1), Wetzel (9/0), Wirt (4/0), Wood (52 /4) and Wyoming (5/0).
In Ohio, 412 new positive cases were reported in the state Wednesday, for a total of 42,422, and 14 new deaths, for a total of 2,611.
Four new cases were reported in Lawrence County, according to the Lawrence County Health Department. The cases bring the county’s total to 39.
In Kentucky, 170 new positive cases were reported statewide Wednesday, for a total of 12,995, and six new deaths, for a total of 518.
Two new cases were reported by the Ashland-Boyd County Health Department — a 30-year-old man and a 32-year-old woman who were both isolating at home. The two cases bring the county’s total to 48, with 37 recovered and three deaths.
There were nearly 28,000 new cases of COVID-19 reported across the U.S. on Wednesday, bringing the nation’s total number of cases to 2,132,321. There have been 116,862 deaths related to the virus.