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Red Cross begins testing blood donations for coronavirus antibodies

All blood, platelet and plasma donations through the Red Cross will now undergo free COVID-19 antibody testing. The program is expected to last through the summer.

The American Red Cross says it will now test all blood donations for coronavirus antibodies.

All blood, platelet and plasma donations occurring after June 15 will undergo free antibody testing. The worldwide organization said it plans to offer antibody testing throughout the summer months.

The test will look for antibodies in a person's blood, which typically forms while fighting an infection like COVID-19. The test determines if your body has previously responded to the infection, not if the virus is currently present. A positive antibody test does not confirm infection or immunity, but rather indicates that a person has been potentially exposed to the virus. 

It's important to note that this is different than a test to diagnose someone with COVID-19. The Red Cross stresses that anybody who may have had COVID-19 should not donate blood until they are symptom free for 28 days and feeling healthy and well. 

Results from the antibody test will be made available to donors online or via their Blood Donor Application seven to 10 days after a donation. 

The Red Cross plans to report the number of positive tests to state and federal health agencies, but personal information won’t be released.

Even if blood tests positive for coronavirus antibodies, the Red Cross says these donations can still safely be donated and used in medical procedures.

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As the coronavirus continues to affect millions, there is still a large demand for both blood and plasma donations.The plasma of former COVID-19 patients who are no longer symptomatic tends to contain antibodies that can help attack the virus. Plasma is currently being used as treatment for those with serious or life-threatening COVID-19 infections. 

Anybody interested in donating blood, platelet or plasma and receiving the test can search for a blood drive here

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