Simply under 2 percent of people who donated blood to the American Red Cross this summer had coronavirus antibodies, revealing that extremely few people in the United States have been exposed to the virus that’s ravaged the nation. The company started offering antibody tests to donors in early June, and it published the results of the program in the Journal of the American Medical Association this week.
The Red Cross evaluated just under 1 million blood contributions for antibodies throughout the summer. When the antibody testing program started, about 1.18 percent of people who contributed blood were positive. By the end of August, 2.58 percent of the people donating blood had antibodies.
Tracking the variety of individuals with antibodies gives scientists and public health authorities a window into how far the virus has actually spread out. Many people with COVID-19 don’t have symptoms or aren’t able to get tested when they’re ill, so the variety of cases recognized through regular testing doesn’t catch the full extent of an outbreak.
These results are comparable to those from other surveys in the United States, which discovered that only a couple of percent of people in many locations have antibodies to the infection. Notable exceptions consist of New York City, which suffered a large break out and has high antibody rates.
When the Red Cross started using antibody tests, the main research study goal was to discover the number of individuals in the US had been exposed to the virus. But the organization also hoped that the research study would be a reward to bring more people in to contribute blood considering that contributions had actually dropped off in the spring and early summer throughout the pandemic. The initial response revealed it worked: after it offered antibody tests for two weeks, donor consultations leapt by 150 percent, a representative informed The Verge in June
The number of donors who were offering blood for the first time leapt from 11 percent to 17 percent after the Red Cross introduced antibody screening. That could suggest individuals who believed they ‘d been sick with COVID-19 were turning to blood contribution as a method to discover out if they had antibodies– which, like the limited collection in New York City, might have influenced the findings.
Blood banks are useful for research study since they have a ready-made collection of blood samples available. The Red Cross research study is one image of the antibody rates throughout the US, but like any survey, it has restrictions.
The Red Cross plans to follow up with donors who had antibodies to see how their antibody levels alter over time. The Red Cross is likewise participating in another blood donor antibody research study, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which will consist of other blood banks.