The American Red Cross Scientific Response to SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19
In December 2019, a series of pneumonia cases associated with a live animal and seafood market in Wuhan, China, called international attention due to their unknown origin but rapid transmission. A novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, was soon identified as the cause of the new disease, termed COVID-19 by the WHO. The outbreak was declared a public health emergency of international concern on January 30, 2020 and recognized as a pandemic on March 11, 2020. Due to its unprecedented nature, aggressive social distance protocols were implemented globally resulting in severe socioeconomic consequences, including a large negative impact on the blood supply.
Capitalizing on our strong history responding to health emergency threats to the blood supply, the American Red Cross joined forces with Vitalant Research Institute (VRI) and other blood collectors, federal agencies and leading companies to coordinate a response to this outbreak. Specifically, Red Cross scientists are contributing to address the following relevant questions/issues: 1) temporal introduction of SARS-CoV-2 in the US; 2) serological and nucleic acid test validation; 3) incidence and prevalence of COVID-19 in the US population and percentage of mild and asymptomatic cases; 4) persistence of RNA in biological fluids and potential spread via blood transfusion; 5) immunological response to COVID-19.
Who We Are
The Red Cross scientists and physicians engage in scientific studies with particular focus on mechanisms underlying and preventing infectious complications, development and use of diagnostic tests, and driving innovation in blood products. Effective analysis of data will support our goal to establish tomorrow’s transfusion therapies to achieve better patient care.