Response to Novel Coronavirus

The NBA continues to closely monitor evolving issues relating to COVID-19. Australia’s blood supply remains safe and secure.

The NBA is in close contact with the Australian Red Cross Lifeblood (Lifeblood) and with Australia’s contracted commercial suppliers of blood products. The contracts that are in place between the NBA and commercial suppliers include arrangements to ensure adequate supplies of local and imported clotting factors, including national reserves.

Lifeblood continues to issue news releases calling for blood donors. This is a prudent step in current circumstances to encourage all existing blood donors who can, as well as new donors, to keep rolling their sleeves up to donate this precious and life-giving and life-saving treatment. Fresh blood has a limited life span and we need to keep giving all year around, regardless of anything else that might be happening in the community.

Australia’s blood supply is one of the safest in the world.  This position is maintained through a combination of nationally managed arrangements and, more specifically, blood donor and supply arrangements in place through Lifeblood, and commercial suppliers of blood products. This includes donor screening and deferral, blood and plasma testing, high standards of manufacturing safety, and regulation of good manufacturing practice.

Respiratory viruses, in general, are not known to be transmitted by blood transfusion and there have been no reported cases of transfusion-transmitted coronavirus. Moreover, the plasma fractionation process involves multiple stages that inactivate and remove viruses in plasma-derived products.

The NBA’s responsibilities include the management of risks to the blood supply in Australia. The National Blood Supply Contingency Plan provides context and guidance for the management of these risks. The Plan specifies the arrangements for managing a crisis affecting, or potentially affecting, the supply of blood and blood related products. The Plan provides an overarching framework for rapid and coordinated response to manage the consequences of a supply disruption. It links to other national plans as well as State and Territory plans. The Plan provides a robust framework for the management of risk and response to disruption.

The NBA, government jurisdictions, Lifeblood and commercial suppliers continue to work closely together to ensure the continuing safe and secure supply of blood and blood related products. The Commonwealth Department of Health website has up to date information on issues relating to COVID-19. The Lifeblood website also has information about blood and plasma donations, as well as Lifeblood’s response to the current situation.