PAHO warns of potential blood shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic

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News release


PAHO warns of potential blood shortages during the COVID-19 pandemic

Countries in the Americas should ensure continuity of donations and safety for donors

Washington, DC, April 10 2020 (PAHO/WHO) – The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) today warned that countries in the Americas face potential shortages of blood for transfusions due to a significant reduction in voluntary blood donations during this time of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the latest available data, in 2017 more than 10.5 million units of blood were collected, through 1,800 blood donation centers in 37 countries and territories of the Americas. Given the current pandemic, health services are now running the risk of shortages in availability.

“We are concerned that blood bank reserves are being depleted, as this puts at risk the lives of many people who need transfusions,” said PAHO Director Carissa F. Etienne. People with cancer and leukemia, people needing transplant services, and women who suffer postpartum hemorrhage are among those who arrive at hospitals every day requiring transfusions. In addition, emergency services require continuous availability of blood to respond to trauma cases arising from road traffic accidents and other injuries..

Dr. Etienne called on governments to maintain adequate blood supplies even as they work to reduce the spread of COVID-19. This means ensuring that voluntary blood donors can continue to safely donate blood, platelets and plasma. “The need for blood is becoming critical,” said Dr. Etienne. “Health services must coordinate with donors to make appointments for blood donation, either within a health facility, or through mobile collection systems and health services.”

The risk of transmission of the new coronavirus through transfusion of blood and components is likely minimal. Respiratory viruses have never been reported to be transmitted through blood or blood components, and to date there have been no reports of COVID-19 infection in blood recipients.

“Stopping donations is not an acceptable action at this time. We must find ways to ensure that blood donations continue uninterrupted and are safe for both the donor and the recipient,” said Dr. Etienne.

She called on hospitals and blood banks to take precautionary measures to minimize any risk and prevent COVID-19 infection. This includes maintaining physical distancing and implementing adequate biosecurity practices to protect their personnel and donors.

Dr. Etienne urged countries to implement appointment systems, extend donor hours, use mobile collection systems, monitor emergency blood supplies, and reschedule elective surgeries.

She also called for ensuring the availability of critical supplies for blood collection, including personal protective equipment for health personnel, and urged health officials to inform the public about who can donate in the context of the pandemic and what measures they should take to ensure safe donation.


Who can donate blood during COVID-19?

  • Healthy people who have no flu-like symptoms and who have not had contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19.
  • People who have been sick, traveled or had contact with a COVID-19 case may donate one month after travel, contact or full recovery.




Maintaining a safe and adequate blood supply during the pandemic outbreak of COVID-19

Information on COVID-19


Annotated Medicine and Devices Lists

PAHO has launched the MedList, an annotated medicine and device lists portal that provides evidence summaries based on a context and question about a medicine clinical use.

Here you can find scientific and technological information related to COVID-19 on medicines and other health technologies, explore the international database of grade guidelines, explore WHO prequalified vaccines tool, and access BRISA, the database for technology assessment reports.

Click here to access the Search engine to access scientific & technological information related to COVID-19



COVID-19 guidance and ongoing research in the Americas

Healthcare business graph and Medical examination and businessman analyzing data and growth chart on blured background


PAHO has developed a searchable database that provides access to technical guidelines, scientific publications, and ongoing research protocols from the Americas and affected countries worldwide regarding the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.

Recommendations and guidance from the Pan American Health Organization and the World Health Organization are also included, making it a useful platform of trusted information for decision and policy-making authorities, researchers, health professionals, and individuals.

Click here to access the page


WHO: There is a lot of false information around… These are the facts!

These are the facts:

🔢 People of all ages CAN be infected by the coronavirus. Older people, and people with pre-existing medical conditions (such as asthma, diabetes, heart disease) appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus.

❄️ Cold weather and snow CANNOT kill the coronavirus.

☀️ The coronavirus CAN be transmitted in areas with hot and humid climates

🦟 The coronavirus CANNOT be transmitted through mosquito bites.

🐶 There is NO evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can transmit the coronavirus.

🛀 Taking a hot bath DOES NOT prevent the coronavirus

💨 Hand dryers are NOT effective in killing the coronavirus

🟣 Ultraviolet light SHOULD NOT be used for sterilization and can cause skin irritation

🌡️ Thermal scanners CAN detect if people have a fever but CANNOT detect whether or not someone has the coronavirus

💦 Spraying alcohol or chlorine all over your body WILL NOT kill viruses that have already entered your body

💉 Vaccines against pneumonia, such as pneumococcal vaccine and _Haemophilus influenzae_ type b (Hib) vaccine, DO NOT provide protection against the coronavirus.

👃 There is NO evidence that regularly rinsing the nose with saline has protected people from infection with the coronavirus.

🧄 Garlic is healthy but there is NO evidence from the current outbreak that eating garlic has protected people from the coronavirus.

💊 Antibiotics DO NOT work against viruses, antibiotics only work against bacteria.

🧪 To date, there is specific medicine recommended to prevent or treat the coronavirus.


Check the facts on the WHO website: click here




World Health Organization (WHO) and COVID-19

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV).

Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is a new strain that was discovered in 2019 and has not been previously identified in humans.



Uppsala pharmacovigilance program membership: Belize became an associate member of the WHO Program for International Drug Monitoring

Recently, Belize became an associate member of the WHO Program for International Drug Monitoring (WHO PIDM). The WHO PIDM helps countries with pharmacovigilance related activities, including provides software and analytical tools to report and analyze adverse events, provided the country can demonstrate to WHO that it has set up key elements for a successful pharmacovigilance program, including a national center, and can submit a certain number of high quality adverse event reports to WHO.

This accomplishment is the result of a focused effort on the part of the government of Belize and PAHO to strengthen regulatory functions including registration, pharmacovigilance, and post market surveillance. Regulatory strengthening in small countries like Belize can be especially challenging because small countries have fewer people to staff their agencies, small markets that do not incentivize strong industry engagement with regulation, and often times limited financing.

Belize’s strategy to improve its regulatory system makes use of new regional systems available to CARICOM countries, including CARPHA’s Caribbean Regulatory System, and its market surveillance reporting platform, VigiCarib. Belize has become a leader in CARICOM on regulatory strengthening initiatives.

Additional information: