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Central Coast residents can learn of prior COVID-19 infection with blood donation

Posted at 9:34 AM, Jul 23, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-23 12:34:49-04

People who donate blood at Vitalant in San Luis Obispo will now learn whether they were possibly exposed to COVID-19.

Vitalant is seeing a sizeable number of donors at its San Luis Obispo location, people using their newfound free time for good.

But whether they're giving plasma, blood, or platelets, those donors can now get something in return.

People donating blood, plasma, or platelets as recently as June can find out whether their blood contains the COVID-19 antibody.

In addition to the cholesterol and blood pressure reading recorded in your mini-physical, donors can find a negative or positive result for the COVID-19 antibody.

Not only does the antibody result tell you whether you've been previously infected by the virus, but it can be useful in helping others currently battling COVID-19.

"What we're really hoping that we'll be discovering a lot more folks that are antibody positive then encouraging them to come back as a convalescent plasma donor, a CCP, this type of donation can help someone that is battling COVID, so we're hopeful we can increase our base of convalescent plasma donors," Vitalant SLO Donor Recruitment Dir. Mon Kleman.

Antibodies are a protein in the blood that helps prevent re-infection. However, the Centers for Disease Control warns that not enough is known about COVID-19 to assume the presence of an antibody means real protection from future infection.

There's also the risk that a positive result is misleading, noting an antibody for a virus in the same coronavirus family.

Even so, researchers are hopeful that as the accuracy of these tests improves so too will the understanding of how to stop the spread of COVID-19.

Vitalant's blood testing does not check for an active infection of COVID-19. If you believe you are sick, do not show up for your donation.

To make an appointment, you can visit the Vitalant website.