Inova Blood Donor Services is testing donor samples for COVID-19 antibodies

All successful blood donations to Inova Blood Donor Services in Northern Virginia are undergoing COVID-19 antibody testing.

The serology test does not look for live or active COVID-19. Instead, it determines whether a body’s immune system has reacted to having SARS-CoV-2 in the past.

The information isn’t getting stockpiled or shared anywhere.

“It’s just our initiative to do antibody testing on our volunteer blood donors, as we’ve had a lot of requests for that,” said Terri Craddock, senior director of Inova Blood Services.

Results are available about 72 hours after donations. People testing negative will be emailed results.

Inova negative COVID-19 blood donor result
Blood donors with negative results will get an email message that looks like this. (WTOP/Colleen Kelleher)

Donors with positive tests will be contacted personally.

“Myself or our medical director will give them a call to discuss those results, as we’re sure they’ll probably have some questions,” Craddock said. “I’m sure they’re going to ask us the strength of their antibody. And, at this point, this is just a positive-negative result; it’s just a qualitative result,” Craddock said.

Positive tests will not indicate how high a person’s antibodies levels are — just whether they’re present.

Inova provides 90% of area hospitals with blood products, and Craddock said there’s great need now for donations.

“We are critically short of Type O and B red blood cells, whole blood. This is a really difficult time for us because traditionally our high schools are back in session, and we start to ramp up our high school blood drives,” Craddock said.

About 30% of collections come from high schools.

“We’re trying to navigate that now. Where’s the blood going to come from?” Craddock said.

You can find blood drives and blood donation center locations on Inova’s website.

More Coronavirus news

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.

Kristi King

Kristi King is a veteran reporter who has been working in the WTOP newsroom since 1990. She covers everything from breaking news to consumer concerns and the latest medical developments.

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