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Antibody testing begins on all blood donations

Posted by Paul Adams on June 2, 2020 7:58 AM

New Orleans, LA. – All blood donated with The Blood Center (TBC) is being tested for COVID-19 antibodies beginning Tuesday June 2, 2020. This free service informs the donor if they carry the COVID-19 antibody which has been used via plasma transfusions to help critically ill patients battling the coronavirus.

Donors need to schedule their donations in order to practice social distancing and insure a safe, stable blood supply. Results post 48 hours after a completed blood donation. Donors need to visit and log into My Account for their results. 

Donors who test positive for COVID-19 antibodies may be eligible to donate COVID Convalescent Plasma (CCP). “We’ve seen promising results from patients who’ve received CCP, but there’s only a few recovered patients who are eligible to give at this time” says Dr. Tim Peterson, Medical Director for The Blood Center. “The scarcity of donors with the COVID antibody make this test extremely beneficial to patient care.” Testing also provides statistics to  the Louisiana Department of Health about what percentage of the population was exposed to COVID-19.

TBC is using the Roche Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibody test which received the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Emergency Use Authorization in April. The test is designed to help determine if a patient has been exposed to the SARS-CoV-2 virus and if the patient has developed antibodies against SARS-CoV-2.

Those testing positive should not assume they are immune from the virus. TBC’s antibody test will not test if you currently have COVID-19 and donors should not attempt to donate if they are experiencing any symptoms.

“Thanks to the enormous efforts of our dedicated colleagues we are now able to deliver a high-quality antibody test in high quantities, so we can support healthcare systems around the world with an important tool to better manage the COVID-19 health crisis,” said Severin Schwan, CEO Roche Group. ”I am in particular pleased about the high specificity and sensitivity of our test, which is crucial to support health care systems around the world with a reliable tool to better manage the COVID-19 health crisis.”

The serology test has a specificity greater than 99.8% and sensitivity of 100% (14 Days post-PCR confirmation). The high specificity of the test is crucial to determine reliably if a person has been exposed to the virus and if the patient has developed antibodies.

For more information on blood donation, please call 1-(800) 86-BLOOD or visit The Blood Center is active on social media at @TheBloodCenter. 

The Blood Center, a nonprofit organization led by a volunteer Board of Directors, is the primary supplier of blood and blood components to more than 50 area hospitals and outpatient facilities throughout Southeast Louisiana and Southern Mississippi. The Blood Center operates 12 donor centers in the Gulf South.




About antibody testing

An antibody test, also called a serology test, is used to determine whether a person might have gained immunity against a pathogen or not. The human body makes antibodies in response to many illnesses. In the current situation of the COVID-19 pandemic, antibody tests need to be able to specifically detect antibodies against SARS-CoV-2 with no cross-reactivity to other similar coronaviruses, which could generate a false positive result and thus wrongly indicate potential immunity. A false positive result happens when a person receives a positive test result, when they should have received a negative result. False positives are particularly critical when we do not know how many people in a given population have had COVID-19. As of April 24, 2020, no study has evaluated whether the presence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 confers immunity to subsequent infection by this virus in humans.


About Elecsys Anti-SARS-CoV-2 serology test

Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 is an immunoassay for the in-vitro qualitative detection of antibodies (including IgG) to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) in human serum and plasma. Through a blood sample, the test, which is based on an in-solution double-antigen sandwich format, can detect antibodies to the new coronavirus causing COVID-19, which could signal whether a person has already been infected and potentially developed immunity to the virus. Based on the measurement of a total of 5272 samples, the Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 assay has 99.81% specificity and shows no cross-reactivity to the four human coronaviruses causing common cold. This means it can lower the chance of false positives due to the detection of similar antibodies that may be present in an individual, but are specific for coronaviruses other than SARS-CoV-2. Elecsys® Anti-SARS-CoV-2 detected antibodies with 100% sensitivity in samples taken 14 days after a PCR-confirmed infection. The importance of specificity and sensitivity of a particular test will be dependent on its purpose and disease prevalence within a given population.