20.03.2020 Opinion

Coronavirus Pandemic: Do We Have Blood At The Blood Banks?

By Kelly West
Coronavirus Pandemic: Do We Have Blood At The Blood Banks?
LISTEN MAR 20, 2020

Ever since World Health Organization, WHO declared the virus as a pandemic, I wonder if Blood Banks across the continent specifically Ghana has enough blood for patients who may need blood or blood components for transfusion.

Over the years, the National Blood Service Ghana, has limited number of voluntary non-renumerated Blood donors but rather what is available but not readily is the family-replacement donation system where families of patients or accident victims donate blood to their relative who is in need of blood or it's components.

With the current developments of the pandemic where public gatherings are not encouraged, and every individual is at risk of contracting the virus, one may ask if it is advisable for blood donors to visit blood centers to voluntarily give blood?

Though, blood donated at the blood centers are screened for transfusion transmissible infectious agents such as HIV I & II, Hepatitis B surface antigens, Hepatitis C virus, Treponema pallidum (Syphilis) and any other pathogens as recommend by WHO.

I wonder in Africa, the number of countries that may consider screening for antibodies produced by the immune systems in response to the CoVID-19 infection.

May I use this platform to once again highlight "what is being tested" aside the serological tests (though under development) in advanced facilities...

The test for SARS-CoV-2 –the virus that causes COVID-19 –detects genetic material from the virus. It uses PCR – a technology that amplifies the genes so that they can be detected.

There are several different types of these tests being used, an example is the gene xpert in the screening of Mycobacterium tuberculosis rifampicin resistance: this system integrates and automates the sample (sputum) processing, nucleic acid amplification, and detection of the target sequences.

The primers in the XpertMTB/RIF assay amplify a portion of the rpoB gene containing the 81 base pair “core” region. The probes are able to differentiate between the conserved wild-type sequence and mutations in the core region that are associated with rifampicin resistance.

The test looks for specific SARS-CoV-2 genetic material. An initial screening test may be positive because of the presence of other, non-SARS CoV-2 coronaviruses. If your sample tests positive a further test for another target gene from the virus will be used to confirm it.

With the above knowledge so far, is our blood banks in the continent ready to screen for the virus?

I pause to once again ask, do we have blood in the 'banks' for safe transfusion in the country?

I, therefore, urge authorities and powers in charge of blood transfusion in Ghana and the continent to put in stringent measures to advert any possible infection due to coronavirus-transfusion transmissions.

Thank you!

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