Vitalant now testing all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies

SPOKANE, Wash. — For years now, Robert Allred has spent hours in a chair donating blood, platelets and plasma.

“Just a way to give back and to help people out. I’ve had others help me in the past, so I’m here to return the favor for others and help them as well,” he told 4 News Now Wednesday as he was donating plasma and platelets.

More than two decades ago, Allred underwent neurosurgery, needing a blood transfusion. Now, he’s giving back to the community by donating his own blood and more.

“Right now I’m furloughed from work, so I’ve got all day. So, timing works out perfect in that,” he said.

Blood service provider Vitalant is now testing all donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

“This is a way of providing information to the blood donors. Those blood donations that test positive, that is an indication that they actually had the presence of the virus in them,” said Cliff Numark, the chief of marketing with Vitalant.

According to a release, the antibody tests are part of a full panel of tests that Vitalant performs on successful blood donations. Donors are not charged for the tests and costs are subsidized in part by the Blood Center Foundation of the Inland Northwest and the Bonfils Blood Center Donor Advised Fund.

There is no evidence of SARS-CoV-2 transmission through blood donation or transfusion.

Antibodies are proteins that help fight off infections. They are part of the body’s immune response, not the virus itself. Therefore, antibody testing cannot be used to diagnose current coronavirus infection; that would have to be done in at a COVID-19 testing site.

Positive antibody tests do not mean someone is immune to COVID-19, but it does mean they may be eligible to donate convalescent plasma, a type of plasma that can help those who have the virus.

Those interested in donating blood are encouraged to book an appointment. Learn more here.

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