SARS-CoV-2 detected in donor's blood 40 days after COVID-19 symptoms cleared

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COVID-19 patients without symptoms might pose a health risk to the safety of the blood supply, according to international researchers. The researchers reported the case of a volunteer blood donor who was healthy on the day of donation, but had detectable levels of SARS-CoV-2 genetic material in their blood, at least 40 days after their COVID-19 symptoms had gone away. Researchers say the confirmation that SARS-CoV-2 is detectable in the blood more than a month after symptoms have resolved is concerning, and while a single case does not yet indicate the need for blood screening in the general blood donor population, their institution has begun to test for COVID-19 in every donor.

Journal/conference: Annals of Internal Medicine

Link to research (DOI): 10.7326/L20-0725

Organisation/s: Stanford University, USA

Funder: Disclosures can be viewed at www.acponline.org/authors/icmje/ConflictOfInterestForms.do?msNum=L20-0725.

Media release

From: Annals of Internal Medicine

SARS-CoV-2 RNA found in a healthy blood donor 40 days after resolution of symptoms

Asymptomatic donors infected with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) may pose a risk to the safety of the blood supply. Researchers from Stanford University School of Medicine report the case of a volunteer blood donor who was healthy on the day of donation but had detectable SARS-CoV-2 RNA levels in their blood at least 40 days after resolution of COVID-19-like symptoms. The donor had symptoms of upper respiratory infection in early March, including body aches and sore throat without fever. The donor did not seek medical attention and was not tested for SARS-CoV-2 at that time. After the donor was notified about the results, and 5 days after the donation date, RT-PCR assay of the donor’s nasopharyngeal swab specimen showed no SARS-CoV-2 RNA.

According to the authors, the confirmation of SARS-CoV-2 RNA in donor blood more than 1 month after symptom resolution is concerning in light of current guidelines, which do not recommend screening in the general allogeneic donor population. Although this case is insufficient to recommend universal SARS-CoV-2 blood screening, the authors say their institution will continue to do so.

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