Shortage of blood due to pandemic pushes FDA to loosen blood donation restrictions on gay men


  • The American Red Cross gets the majority of its donations from blood drives which were canceled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
  • The U.S. is facing a nationwide shortage of blood supply due to the large drop in donations, prompting the FDA to loosen the restrictions on who can donate blood.
  • The revised guidelines, a three-month deferral, now allow gay and bisexual men, those who have tattoos or piercings, former sex workers and injection drug users to donate blood.

According to the Food Drug Administration, the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic has caused “unprecedented challenges” to the blood supply of the nation. Due to these, on Thursday the federal government published revised guidelines on blood donations.

Restrictions on blood donations were loosened and the FDA recommended a three-month deferral for gay and bisexual men as well as those recently tattooed or received piercings. Before the recommendation, the previous policy was a one-year ban.

Former sex workers and injection drug users, who were previously indefinitely banned from donating blood, are also included in the three-month deferral.

With the nationwide blood shortage brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the new guidelines will remain in place throughout the battle against the virus. Within 60 days of the emergency being lifted, the new guidelines will also be updated to incorporate public comment.

Democratic lawmakers, as well as activist groups, have been pressuring the agency to make changes to its donation policy.

The American Red Cross collects more than 80% of its blood donations from blood drives. Almost 2,700 blood drives, which had been announced last month, have been canceled due to the implementation of social distancing. Donor centers have also experienced a large drop in donations due to the pandemic.

In response to the nationwide shortage, U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams called for healthy Americans to donate blood.

Experience in other countries, like Canada and the United Kingdom, with a three-month deferral and improved testing, led the FDA to make the revisions, the agency said.

Source: The HILL

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