April 15, 2020

Researchers in both China and South Korea have identified SARS-CoV-2 in routine blood donations. In China, 2,430 blood donations (1,656 platelet and 774 whole blood) collected between January 25, 2020 and March 4, 2020 were screened by real-time reverse transcription PCR for SARS-CoV-2; in addition, almost 5,000 samples collected between December 21, 2019 and January 22, 2020 were retrospectively tested. Four samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2. All four blood donors were asymptomatic at the time of collection, but two developed fevers the day after donation. In South Korea, seven donors who later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 (6 -15 days post-donation) were identified by the South Korean Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the South Korean Red Cross Blood Services were subsequently notified. All seven samples (6 whole blood and 1 source plasma) were negative for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. However, 6 platelet units and 3 RBC units had already been transfused into 9 patients. Eight of the transfusion recipients did not develop symptoms related to COVID-19, and the 9th died of causes unrelated to COVID-19. No transfusion-transmission of SARS-CoV-2 has been observed in China or South Korea, but medical staff and blood collection establishments must remain vigilant and in close contact with donors and health authorities for cross-referencing SARS-CoV-2 positive donations and recipients. Further research is needed to confirm the presence or absence of virions in blood products and whether these virions are infectious.


1. Chang L, Zhao L, Gong H, Wang Lunan, Wang L. Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 RNA detected in blood donations. Emerg Infect Dis 2020 Jul; 26(7)

2. Kwon SY, Kim EJ, Jung YS, Jang JS, Cho NS. Post-donation COVID-19 identification of blood donors. Vox Sang 2020

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