FDA recommends ban on blood collections from Zika-affected areas

admin   •   February 17, 2016   •   2239

Testing tubes full of blood are seen at the American Red Cross Charles Drew Donation Center in Washington February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Testing tubes full of blood are seen at the American Red Cross Charles Drew Donation Center in Washington February 16, 2016. REUTERS/Gary Cameron

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommended on Tuesday that blood should no longer be collected from regions where the Zika virus is circulating, and that blood needed for transfusions be obtained from areas of the country without active transmission.

The agency said blood banks can continue collecting and preparing platelets and plasma if an FDA-approved pathogen-reduction technology is used. Current pathogen-reduction technology is not approved to treat whole red blood, which is used for most transfusions.

The guidelines come as Zika is spreading rapidly through the Americas, with more than 30 affected countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. The virus has been linked to a spike in cases of a rare birth defect known as microcephaly in Brazil, prompting health officials to declare a global health emergency.

Researchers have begun to study the consequences of Zika transmission through the blood, but that work could take six to 12 months to produce results. In the meantime, the FDA said people at risk of having been infected with the virus defer donating blood for at least four weeks.

“We believe the new recommendations will help reduce the risk of collecting blood and blood components from donors who may be infected with the Zika virus,” Dr. Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s biologics division, said in a statement.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has identified Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American Samoa as areas with active Zika transmission and health experts expect some localized outbreaks may occur in the southeastern United States later this year.

There is considerable evidence from prior Zika outbreaks that the virus can be transmitted in the blood. What is less clear is whether that transmission causes the recipient to become ill. Dengue and chikungunya viruses, which are carried by the same mosquito as the Zika virus, do not typically cause illness in patients when transfused.

Much remains unknown about Zika, including whether the virus actually causes microcephaly. Brazil is investigating the potential link between Zika infections and more than 4,300 suspected cases of microcephaly. Researchers have confirmed more than 460 of these cases as microcephaly and identified evidence of Zika infection in 41 of these cases, but have not proven that Zika can cause microcephaly.

The studies under way in Brazil to further understand the clinical consequences of Zika transmission through the blood could take six to 12 months to complete.

“No-one feels comfortable waiting for the results of those studies to be concluded,” said Dr. Michael Busch, director of the Blood Systems Research Institute. “There’s a lot of work going on to understand the value and need for blood screening.”

Busch, who is widely considered one of the world’s leading experts on transfusion medicine, added that it is possible for private companies to develop a test for investigational use by the time the mosquito season moves into full swing in the summer.

The two companies the government is relying on to make such a test are Hologic Inc and Roche Holding AG. Each have platforms that they can turn to making a virus test quickly.

Roche spokeswoman Nicole Rueppel said the company is testing prototypes in its laboratories but that further evaluations with clinical samples need to be conducted.

The FDA said its guidance is for immediate implementation in areas with active Zika virus transmission for those at highest risk, including pregnant women. It recommends implementation within two weeks for the remainder of the population in such areas.

The FDA recommended that areas with active Zika transmission fulfill blood orders from areas in the U.S. without transmission except when the blood is tested with an FDA-licensed or investigational screening test. The agency also suggested exceptions could be made for platelets and plasma subjected to pathogen-inactivation treatment.

The FDA also formally endorsed recommendations made by the American Association of Blood Banks that donors at risk for Zika virus be deferred from donating blood for four weeks.

That includes people who have had symptoms suggestive of Zika virus during the previous four weeks, those who have had sexual contact with a person who has traveled to, or lived in, an area with active Zika virus transmission during the prior three months, and those who have traveled to areas with active transmission of Zika during the past four weeks.

(Reporting by Toni Clarke; Editing by Sandra Maler and Bill Rigby)

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PGH calls for blood donations as stock reaches critical level

Aileen Cerrudo   •   September 24, 2021

MANILA, Philippines—The Philippine General Hospital (PGH) is calling for blood donations to replenish its diminishing supply.

“The PGH blood stocks are in very critical levels,” the PGH said in its Facebook page.

PGH is encouraging voluntary, non-remunerated, non-pre deposit, non-replacement donors, in accordance with the Republic Act 7199: National Blood Services Act.

For interested donors, PGH is urging online scheduling. The blood donor center is open 7 days a week, including holidays from 8:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Interested donors would need to fill-out an online form for assessment.

For mobile blood drives, it can be coordinated through the UP-PGH Blood Bank. AAC

RT-PCR COVID-19 test not required for blood donors – DOH

Robie de Guzman   •   June 15, 2021

MANILA, Philippines – Healthy individuals who wish to donate blood are not required to undergo a COVID-19 RT-PCR test and submit their negative results at blood banks, the Department of Health’s (DOH) National Voluntary Blood Services Program said on Tuesday.

During the Laging Handa public briefing, program manager Dr. Marites Estrella explained that eligible blood donors undergo pre-screening before they head to blood banks.

“Hindi na po natin kailangan ng RT-PCR Test para po mag-donate ng dugo kasi unang-una po ang mga nagdo-donate ng dugo ay yung mga healthy individuals lang,” Estrella said.

“Of course, yung health protocols natin kung ano yung mga symptoms ng COVID-19 at exposure nila, tinatanong na rin natin yan,” she added.

Estrella said that blood donors must be aged 18 and 65 years old, must weigh at least 50 kilograms and do not have co-morbidities. They must also be well hydrated, and have at least 6 to 8 hours of sleep before donating blood.

She advised those who wish to donate blood to call or coordinate with nearest blood center for the pre-screening.

Estrella said blood donations declined by 22 percent in 2020 following the imposition of community quarantine restrictions in the country due to the coronavirus pandemic.

From 1.38 million units of blood in 2019, she said only 1.04 million units of blood were collected last year.

“Ang atin kasing suplay ng dugo dapat one percent of the total population… Bumaba po ang collection natin ng dugo mula po ng magkaroon tayo ng lockdowns at mayroon po tayong restrictions,” she said.

Estrella added that donated blood units are used for individuals undergoing dialysis and other patients in need of transfusion.

“Mayroon tayong mga pasyente na nagka-COVID na nagda-dialysis araw-araw, mayroon tayong mga bumaba ang hemoglobin at kailangan nilang salinan… Bumaba ang platelet na kailangan din pong salinan depende po iyan,” she said.

To address declining donated blood supplies, Estrella said the DOH has adjusted its policies by intensifying its blood services network with other concerned agencies.

“Kung wala pong type A doon sa isang hospital at mayroong maraming type A doon sa pangalawang hospital, yun po ay nagsi-share sila para lang po matugunan ang pangangailangan ng ating mga pasyente sa kanilang transfusion ng dugo bawa’t araw,” she said.

The DOH encouraged the public, especially young people, to donate blood to ensure adequate supply amid the pandemic.  RRD (with details from Correspondent Janice Ingente)

Blood collection drops to critical level during pandemic—Philippine Blood Center

Aileen Cerrudo   •   June 19, 2020

The Philippine Blood Center (PBC) reported that blood collection has dropped to critical level amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

According to PBC director Director Dr. Pedrito Tagayuna, from the average blood collection of 4,000 to 5,000 bags of blood per month it dropped to 1,400 last March and further dropped to 440 last April.

“Ang blood collection natin nasa critical level na. Down to 10 percent kami ng usual namin na blood collection, (Our blood collection is now at critical level. It is already down to 10 percent compared to our usual blood collection),” he said.

Due to this the PBC is encouraging the public to donate through their mobile blood donation. According to the Department of Health (DOH) Department Memorandum No. 0124 series of 2020, individuals who wish to donate would still need to follow social distancing protocols.

The mobile blood donation event should also last for only four hours and should only accommodate 50 blood donors per activity. The elderly, pregnant women, and persons with co-morbidities are not allowed at the venue.

Barangays, home owners associations, or any association should contact the PBC, through (02) 8995 – 3846, if they want arrange a mobile blood donation event. AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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