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Red Cross now testing donations for COVID antibodies
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Red Cross now testing donations for COVID antibodies

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Pictured is a blood drive taking place.

Beginning on Monday, the American Red Cross has starting testing donations for COVID-19 antibodies. 

“We recognize that individuals and public health organizations desire more information about COVID-19, and as an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is fortunate to be able to help during this pandemic,” Josh Murray, regional communications director of the American Red Cross Nebraska-Iowa Region, said. “We hope that testing for COVID-19 antibodies will provide our valued donors insights into whether they may have been exposed to this coronavirus. We will be using a test authorized by the FDA that may indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether they developed symptoms.”

All donations, including blood, platelet and plasma, will be tested. Testing will occur with samples being pulled at the time of donation; the samples will be sent to a laboratory where they will undergo routine infectious disease testing. Antibody testing will only be available for a limited time.

The antibody testing will be used to indicate if the donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, regardless of whether the donor developed symptoms. This type of testing is different from molecular tests, commonly seen as nasal swabs, as molecular tests diagnose current COVID-19 infections.

The Red Cross notes that a positive antibody test result does not confirm infection or immunity. The organization will not be testing donors to diagnose illness.

COVID-19 antibody test results are available within 7-10 days from the day of donation from the Red Cross. According to the Red Cross’ website, those who are antibody positive may be eligible to take part in their convalescent plasma donation program, which collects plasma from people with the COVID-19 antibodies in their system as part of a potential treatment currently being evaluated.

“As an organization dedicated to helping others, the Red Cross is pleased to provide more information about COVID-19 to our valued donors,” Dr. Erin Goodhue, executive medical director of direct patient care with the Red Cross Biomedical Services, said in a press 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.” 

As hospitals resume surgeries and treatments, a critical need has arisen for blood donations. 

Two blood drives were held over the weekend in Columbus.

Kyle Jensen, account manager/donor recruiter of the American Red Cross’ Midwest Region, said that 18 productive units of blood were collected Friday during a drive held at First United Methodist Church – Outreach Center. A second drive, held Sunday at 1C Church, resulted in the collection of 30 units.

The American Red Cross hosts a blood drive from 11:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. every Thursday, also at the First United Methodist Church’s outreach center. Those wanting to donate are encouraged to make an appointment at www.redcrossblood.org to prevent large crowds.

Hannah Schrodt is the news editor of The Columbus Telegram. Reach her via email at hannah.schrodt@lee.net.

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