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Maintaining safe donations of blood, cells, tissue and organs while SARS-CoV-2 is actively circulating

On 11 March, the World Health Organization characterised COVID-19 as a pandemic. France is now at stage 3 of the epidemic. In this context, maintaining safe products of the human body is a priority. With respect to labile blood products (LBPs), this means ensuring safety for the recipient, donor and clinic staff whilst maintaining supplies to ensure LBP self-sufficiency.

Taking into account, following the example of WHO and the ECDC, an assessment that considers as purely theoretical the risk of SARS-CoV-2 being transfusion-transmissible, a treatment inactivating the virus for platelets and a safe quarantine of plasma, the French High Council for Public Health (Haut Conseil de la santé publique, HCSP) recommends, at stage 3 of the epidemic, excluding anyone with possible direct exposure to COVID-19 from a confirmed case, as well as symptomatic individuals, from blood donations for 28 days, and improving pre- and post-donation information.

Nucleic acid testing for the virus is not recommended as this is impracticable in practice.

With respect to tissue and organ transplants, the HCSP recommends screening for SARS-CoV-2 by RT-PCR assay on a nasopharyngeal swab for any living donor. Where the donor is deceased, action should be based on the availability of results of tests prior to the transplant; where such results are unavailable, only vital organs (heart, liver), may be transplanted and the recipient must have been informed of this situation.
The HCSP has issued two statements: one dated 7 February and amended on 24 February 2020, and the other dated 14 March, adapting the recommendations to the epidemiological situation.

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