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.
FAQs about our new COVID-19 survey:
Is this a legitimate survey?
Yes. This research survey, which is being conducted in collaboration with the national Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, will help the American Red Cross understand donor health and the donor experience during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is hosted on the Survey Monkey platform and arrives to donor email with the subject line “New Red Cross survey on COVID-19.” Email replies to the survey invitation will go to Bryan Spencer, research scientist in Scientific Affairs.
Does getting a survey mean my last donation was tested for antibodies to COVID-19?
No. Eligibility for the current survey is not based on a recent donation visit or a recent COVID-19 antibody test. All donors who were previously invited to our COVID-19 survey (for donations between 6/15/20 and 12/31/21) are eligible for the new survey regardless of the timing of their latest donation.
I didn’t have COVID-19, am I eligible for the survey?
Yes. The survey includes questions that apply to donors regardless of whether they had COVID-19. A donor who reports that they didn’t have COVID-19 infection will not be shown the questions on COVID symptoms, etc.
Does answering the survey mean my information is sent to the CDC?
No, your identifying information is not sent to CDC. For those who complete the survey, CDC would receive a data file including survey responses as well as donor sex and age, but they would not know who the donor is, where they live, or any other identifiable information.
Some of the questions are duplicative to what I previously answered (eg, vaccines), should I answer them again?
The most robust way to ensure we have comparable information from all donors who were surveyed over an 18-month period is to ask the same questions in the same way to everyone. We recognize there is some duplication and are greatly appreciative of your providing this information again.
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.