MBC Statement on Updated FDA Guidance Addressing Urgent Need for Blood During COVID-19 Pandemic
UPDATE: As of June 15, 2020, Memorial Blood Centers has revised our eligibility criteria according to the new guidelines issued by the FDA on April 2, 2020. The FDA’s actions will allow for the re-entry of thousands of individuals to the donor pool who were previously deferred. We are pleased that the FDA has recognized the need for blood during the COVID-19 pandemic and reviewed some of their guidelines based on most current scientific data.
Since 1948, Memorial Blood Centers (MBC) has been deeply committed to serving the critical blood supply needs of our communities. We greatly value the continued support and guidance from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), particularly during this COVID-19 pandemic, and our organization is very pleased to acknowledge the revised FDA guidelines, issued on April 2, 2020, which include changing the deferral period for men who have sex with men (MSM) and making individuals who spent time in numerous European countries, or on military bases in Europe, eligible to donate. Safely expanding the number of eligible donors is crucial to maintaining an adequate blood supply during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond.
We are working hard to implement the changes as quickly as possible, but blood centers will require time to update policies, operational procedures, and information systems, train staff, and revise donor questionnaires. We expect the new changes to be implemented on June 15. Once the changes have been implemented, we will revise our eligibility criteria and be ready to welcome newly eligible donors.
Revised FDA recommendations include:
- Deferral periods have been reduced from 12 months to 3 months, for the following groups of potential donors: men who have sex with men; females who have had sex with a man who had sex with another man; and people with recent tattoos and piercings in a non-regulated state.
- For travelers to malaria-endemic areas (and those who are residents of malaria non-endemic countries), the deferral period has changed from 12 months to 3 months. The guidance also provides notice of an alternate procedure that permits the collection of blood and blood components from such donors without a deferral period, provided the blood components are pathogen-reduced using an FDA-approved pathogen reduction device.
- Deferrals will be eliminated for people who have spent time in certain European countries or on military bases in Europe, who were previously considered to have been exposed to a potential risk of transmission of CJD or Variant CJD; reentry of these donors is recommended. (Please note that the following still results in a permanent deferral: time adding up to 3 months or more in the UK from 1980 – 1996, and time adding up to 5 years or more spent in France and/or Ireland from 1980 – 2001.)
MBC is driven by a dedication to saving lives and strengthening the health of our communities. We wholly support these updated guidelines and will continue to advocate for further changes to ensure a diverse and ample donor pool as well as a safe and reliable blood supply for patients in need.
Per FDA guidelines, your final eligibility determination will be made at the time you present to donate.