Floridians wondering if they had COVID-19 recently and just didn't know it have a new way to find out. OneBlood is now testing all blood donations for coronavirus antibodies.
People can find out within a day or two of giving blood if they have antibodies to fight COVID-19 in their systems.
Donations that test positive may be added to OneBlood's supply of convalescent plasma, which the group began collecting and distributing in April.
Hospitals are increasingly using plasma from recovered people to treat critically ill coronavirus patients, and initial results are promising.
Blood that doesn't have the antibodies can still be used for other purposes.
"So you're learning something new about yourself potentially and you're also helping to save lives at the same time," said Susan Forbes, OneBlood’s senior vice president of corporate communications and public relations.
Forbes said OneBlood’s antibody testing can also help the state track the prevalence of the virus.
“We’re working very closely with the governor as well as public health officials regarding de-identified data of the number of people testing positive and the geographical locations of where those positives come in from, so that information can be another touchpoint that the governor and public health officials can use as they look to further reopen the economy,” she said.
De-identified data does not include donors’ personal information.
If donors have COVID-19 antibodies, it means they have been exposed to the virus. But scientists say it’s not clear whether having the antibodies can protect someone from getting the disease again.
OneBlood is using an FDA-approved antibody test.
The organization is requiring appointments for blood donations now both at its centers and the mobile Big Red Bus to ensure social distancing.
You can learn more about antibody testing and schedule an appointment on OneBlood's website.
The same eligibility restrictions for typical blood donation apply. Find out if you qualify.
WUSF 89.7 depends on donors for the funding it takes to provide you the most trusted source of news and information here in town, across our state, and around the world. Support WUSF now by giving monthly, or make a one-time donation online at WUSF.org/give