FACT CHECK: Do Blood Donors Automatically Get Tested For Coronavirus?

Trevor Schakohl | Fact Check Reporter

An image shared on Facebook claims blood donors automatically get tested for the new coronavirus.

Verdict: False

Blood banks, like America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross, said they do not test for the new coronavirus as part of the donation screening process.

Fact Check:

The tweet about blood banks testing people for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new virus, garnered more than 250,000 likes before it was deleted. Nevertheless, screen grabs of it continue to circulate widely on other social media platforms.

“CORONAVIRUS LOOPHOLE!!!!” reads the screen grabbed tweet. “If you don’t have insurance and can’t afford to take the $3,200 test for the virus ($1,000 with insurance), DONATE BLOOD. They HAVE to test you for the virus in order to donate blood. Tell your friends! Tell your family!!!!!”

Potential donors and the donated blood itself does go through a series of tests for infectious diseases but, according to spokespeople from America’s Blood Centers and the American Red Cross, screening for COVID-19 isn’t part of that process. (RELATED: Did The Vatican Confirm Pope Francis Has The Novel Coronavirus?)

“We do a whole range of testing on blood donations as required by the FDA, but screen or testing for coronavirus is not happening,” Kate Fry, chief executive officer of America’s Blood Centers, told The Associated Press.

“There is no test to screen blood donations for the coronavirus and other respiratory viruses,” American Red Cross spokeswoman Greta Gustafson told the Daily Caller in an email. “It’s important to emphasize that there is no data or evidence that this coronavirus can be transmitted by blood transfusions, and there have been no reported cases of transfusion transmission for any respiratory virus, including this coronavirus, worldwide.”

The American Red Cross has requested that people refrain from donating blood for 28 days after being diagnosed with COVID-19  or coming into contact with someone who has the virus or is suspected to have it. Individuals who have recently traveled to China, Iran, Italy and South Korea should also postpone their donations for 28 days, according to the American Red Cross.

Healthy individuals who meet blood donation criteria are eligible and encouraged to give blood, the American Red Cross website states.

Coronavirus tests consist of at least one swab from the nose and one swab from the throat, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The tests come at no charge, but patients may have to pay for related medical services, like diagnostic scans and hospitalizations, according to Business Insider.

The Twitter account that originated the claim in the Facebook post later issued a correction, saying, “I realize I tweeted something earlier that I didn’t research or thought would go anywhere and at a desperate attempt to help people who can’t afford the medical bills associated with testing for the virus, tweeted out misinformation.”

Trevor Schakohl

Fact Check Reporter
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