U.S. blood donations are safe under COVID-19 screening guidelines

A scientist analyzes a blood sample in a lab.

In early 2020, researchers were curious: Would COVID-19 pose a threat to the nation’s blood supply? The answer is no – as long as current safety protocols are used to screen blood donors for COVID-19. The conclusion is based on an analysis representative of 257, 809 single blood donations made between March and September 2020 from six metropolitan U.S. regions. 

Researchers found the likelihood of a transfusion recipient receiving blood with trace amounts of SARS-CoV-2 was approximately .001% – a little over 1 in 100,000 – and that the likelihood of SARS-CoV-2 transmission by blood transfusion was insignificant compared to airborne transmission. The results of the study were published in the journal Transfusion and mirror findings from studies conducted in Korea, Pakistan, China, and France.

“This finding is good news for thousands of patients who may need a blood transfusion because of surgery or a disease that causes anemia, such as a rare blood-related condition or leukemia,” said Simone Glynn, M.D., M.P.H., chief of the Blood Epidemiology and Clinical Therapeutics Branch at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which conducted the study along with National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID).