Latest on coronavirus outbreak

World facing blood shortages due to COVID-19 pandemic

Pandemic affecting movements of blood donors, leading to shortage in availability of blood for patients

Faruk Zorlu   | 13.04.2020
World facing blood shortages due to COVID-19 pandemic


As the novel coronavirus continues to spread across the world, many countries are experiencing shortages of blood reserves for meeting urgent needs.

"Many countries are facing shortages at blood banks, and we as Kizilay [Turkish Red Crescent] in Turkey have also been recently experiencing the same challenge due to low voluntary blood donations amid coronavirus lockdowns," Dr. Kerem Kinik, head of the Turkish Red Crescent Society, told Anadolu Agency.

The lockdowns are affecting the movements of blood donors across the world. As a result, the supply chain has been disturbed and the pandemic has led to a shortage in the availability of blood for patients, added Kinik, also the vice president responsible for the European region of the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies.

The number of voluntary blood donations is dropping everywhere despite no fall in the need for blood, he stressed, adding: "We had meetings with the heads of the Red Cross in Europe and Central Asia. All are suffering from blood donation shortages."

He also noted the importance of raising awareness among societies on raising the number of volunteer blood donors.

"In the meetings, we decided to act jointly together for disseminating the knowledge highlighting the significance of blood donations during this outbreak."

Blood banks are dependent on voluntary blood donations, he said, adding that many cases -- dependent on transfusions as a life-saving measure such as leukemia and oncology patients -- are waiting for blood donations.

The number of blood donors in Turkey, which was nearly 9,000 per day, has fallen below 2,000 due to the coronavirus outbreak, Kinik also said.

The Turkish Red Crescent delivers at least 9,000 units of blood to over 1,500 hospitals in Turkey daily, and this necessity continues, he added. 

Shortages of personal protective equipment amid pandemic

Shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) are part of a new reality the globe is experiencing amid the unprecedented pandemic.

"There is a global shortage of PPE. So the capacity of PPE in the entire world is not enough to meet the global needs," Kinik said.

The Turkish Red Crescent decided to relaunch its PPE factory in Turkey, he said, noting: "Actually we already started manufacturing the masks, antiseptic and disinfection solutions at our existing facilities."

"We will produce much more PPE to meet the demand of the Turkish domestic market and the Europeans as well," he stressed and added that Turkey has sufficient number of PPE manufacturers working 24/7.

Turkey has been helping a number of countries in need of urgent assistance in the fight against the pandemic, sending medical supplies including PPE and drugs.

There are big gaps and shortages of PPE in Europe, Kinik said, adding Turkey is sending supplies such as protective equipment and sanitizers to Balkan countries as well as Spain, Italy and the U.K., among others.

“In addition to sending PPE to the countries in need, we are also making contributions amid appeals by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies in cash,” he underlined.

The Turkish government has also authorized the transfer of 116 ventilators to Spain, which is in dire need of the machines.

Turkey has confirmed a total of 1,198 fatalities from the virus that was first detected in China late last year. Nearly 57,000 have contracted the virus in Turkey so far, according to country's official figures.

Overall, the disease has infected more than 1.85 million people in 185 countries and regions, as per the data compiled by U.S.-based Johns Hopkins University. The death toll is more than 114,300 while over 435,000 have recovered.

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