Blood bank runs dry as Covid-19 fears keep donors away

By Minh Minh   March 12, 2020 | 05:05 pm PT
Blood bank runs dry as Covid-19 fears keep donors away
People donate blood at the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion in Hanoi, March 12, 2020. Photo by Vietnam News Agency.
As the number of Covid-19 infections rises in Vietnam, donors have stopped visiting blood banks for fear of contracting the virus.

Since last Saturday, up to 70 registrations for donating blood at the National Institute of Hematology and Blood Transfusion in Hanoi have been cancelled.

This means that some 12,000 blood units, or 3,000 liters of blood, will not be added to the blood bank this month.

Bach Quoc Khanh, head of the institute, said the second phase of the novel coronavirus infections in Vietnam, which started with the nation’s 17th and Hanoi’s first case last Friday, has had serious negative impacts on many aspects of healthcare, including blood donations.

It is now a challenge for medical and healthcare centers in Vietnam, having to fight and prevent the spread of Covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus, in tandem with minimizing the shortage of blood needed to treat many ailments.

The impact of the second stage, during which 28 new cases have been recorded to date, have made people stay away from public places, including blood donating stations, he said.

In February, the institute had received 36,000 blood units.

Khanh also stressed that there is no report saying the novel coronavirus can be transmitted via transfusion of contaminated blood components, and called on the public to join blood donation efforts.

The novel coronavirus had started scaring donors soon after the Lunar New Year holiday, when the epidemic started to spread outside China and Vietnam recorded its very first cases.

Now, the shortage has become even more severe, Deputy Health Minister Do Xuan Tuyen said.

The national blood institute now has just 13,000 blood units left, just enough to cover a few more days.

According to official data, the entire blood inventory in the country can only meet 70 percent of total demand.

According to the World Health Organization, every 1,000 patients need 7,000 blood donors, and for Vietnam with a population of 96 million, two million blood units are needed per year.

To date, there has been no substance found to replace blood in treatment.

"Human blood is still a major element in treatment and giving emergency aid. It plays a major role should disaster happen and is also an important factor in ensuring national defense and security," deputy minister Tuyen said.

The Health Ministry has asked hospitals to make plans for economical use of blood and blood products.

Vietnam has so far confirmed 44 Covid-19 cases, with five new cases confirmed on Thursday’s evening. All five contracted the virus from a businesswoman who tested positive after a trip back from Washington D.C. She has spread the virus to at least eight people in Binh Thuan Province in south central Vietnam.

Before recording its 17th Covid-19 infection, Vietnam had gone 22 straight days with no new infections. The first 16 patients had all recovered and been discharged from hospitals.

Covid-19, which the WHO has declared a pandemic, has spread to 127 countries and territories, killing almost 5,000 people.

go to top