During the past one year, the Covid pandemic has created several problems across the globe. One among it is the availability of blood in emergencies. During the Covid-induced lockdown last year, an acute shortage of blood was witnessed in all blood banks and a few blood banks have displayed ‘No Stock’ boards too. A number of surgeries have to be postponed due to the Covid situation. However, people who met with accidents, delivery cases and Thalassemia children were worst hit due to shortage of blood.
The shortage of blood was caused due to lockdown and even the donors were scared to go to blood banks or hospitals to donate blood. Moreover, not blood donation camps were conducted due to the lockdown and the prevailing circumstances afterwards. Nearly 50 percent of blood donations are from college students, fans of cinema stars, NCC and NSS wings. The blood availability eased a bit from January 2021 because of dip in corona cases in our country. However, the shortage of blood may occur in our country soon, because of the rampant spread of the Covid virus in the second wave.
Another factor that may affect the blood donations will be the guidelines issued by the Blood Transfusion Council of India (BTCI), which says that persons should not donate blood for 28 days after each Covid vaccination meaning 56 days from the first dose of vaccination. Though vaccination was launched on January 16, 2021, blood donations were not affected much as the vaccination was only done for persons over 60 years of age and persons over 45 years of age with comorbidities, who do not constitute voluntary blood donors. The government has decided to vaccinate people of 18 years and above from May 1, 2021.
As most of the voluntary blood donors are in the age group of 18 to 45 years, they would not donate blood after vaccination as per the BTCI guidelines. This will affect blood donations badly because of BTCI advisory that vaccinated persons can only donate blood only after 28 days after vaccination. As our vaccines are to be administered in two doses, blood donors can only donate blood after 56 days after vaccination. To avoid repetition of the same acute shortage of blood witnessed last year, there is a need to motivate people to donate blood before taking vaccine shot.
Speaking to Hello Vizag, BVS Kumar, State Coordinator of Red Cross Blood Banks in Andhra Pradesh, said that already blood banks in all districts are facing a shortage as there were only 1,638 units of blood in 18 Red Cross Blood centers in our state. The worst -affected may be the children suffering with Thalassemia, who have to undergo blood transfusion twice or thrice every month and the pregnant ladies, who are to undergo the cesarean operation. In view of the prevailing situation, Mr Kumar appealed to the youth to come forward and donate blood in the nearest Red Cross Blood Centres before taking Covid vaccination to maintain sufficient blood stocks of all groups to cater to the needs in emergencies.
There are 617 Thalassemia children registered with Red Cross Blood Centers, to whom the Red Cross provides blood for free of cost. The victims of road accidents will be affected by the shortage of blood.