FILE – A bag of blood is shown at a clinic in Montreal, Thursday, November 29, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

FILE – A bag of blood is shown at a clinic in Montreal, Thursday, November 29, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz

‘Watching very closely’: Blood services watching for impact from COVID-19 second wave

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million population give blood on a regular basis

Canadian Blood Services is closely watching the second wave of COVID-19 to make sure the national blood supply remains secure.

The organization has not been able to accommodate as many donors at clinics due to physical distancing required since the novel coronavirus appeared earlier this year.

About 400,000 of Canada’s 37 million population give blood on a regular basis.

Canadian Blood Services operates a national inventory that allows products to be regularly shifted around the country to meet hospital and patient needs. But the inventory has a shelf life — a year for frozen plasma, 42 days for red blood cells and five days for platelets — so it takes some work to ensure supply continues to meet demand.

So far, Canadians are still giving enough blood.

“Things are still in good shape with the blood system in terms of our inventory. It’s a healthy inventory right now for sure,” said Peter MacDonald, director of donor relations.

“We’re watching very closely as things move forward and we get hot spots across the country along with the second wave.”

MacDonald said when shutdowns went into place in March, there was less demand for blood, because many elective surgeries were postponed and trauma cases dropped in emergency rooms as people stayed home and off the roads.

READ MORE: Study shows fewer than 1 per cent Canadian blood donors had COVID antibodies

The resumptions of elective surgeries in the summer increased demand and the agency hasn’t seen that change in the second wave, he said.

“In July, hospital demand got back to pre-COVID levels. We haven’t seen that dip yet in the second wave in terms of demand that we saw in March and April,” MacDonald said.

“We’re monitoring the inventory every single day and forecasting up to eight and 12 weeks as to where we expect it to be. The forecast is good right now, but under these conditions it can change pretty quickly.”

A Calgary vascular surgeon said doctors have been in constant contact with Canadian Blood Services since March.

“Are people not going to donate or are we going to need more blood?” asked Dr. Greg Samis, an assistant clinical professor at the University of Calgary. “Will the crisis end up with so many people so sick that we won’t be able to get blood donation from anyone?”

Samis said Canadian Blood Services has a green, yellow or red alert scale. He said it has been mostly green and “we haven’t been at red at all.”

But even with another reduction in elective surgeries, it’s doubtful blood demand will drop off, he said.

“There are a few things in cardiac surgery and vascular surgery where we would be doing operations during COVID … but almost all of it is going to be trauma and unplanned events,” Samis said.

“We need an ongoing bank account and we don’t want to keep withdrawing from it until we hit below the critical level.”

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

blood donorCoronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

As of Friday, Alberta has under 10,000 active COVID-19 cases. (Image courtesy CDC)
Three new COVID-19 deaths in Central zone, Alberta under 10,000 active cases

The Central zone sits at 849 active cases, with 52 people in hospital and 10 in the ICU.

Kyla Gibson with her boyfriend Gavin Hardy. (Photo used with permission)
Sylvan Lake couple lose ‘fur babies’ to house fire

‘They were our world and nothing will ever replace them,’ Kyla Gibson said of her three pets

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health Dr. Deena Hinshaw announced 16 additional deaths Thursday. (Photo by Chris Schwarz/Government of Alberta)
No easing of Alberta’s COVID-19 measures Thursday, 678 new COVID-19 cases

The province also hit 1,500 COVID-19 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic

World Juniors’ referee Mike Langin makes a called during the Canada vs. Slovakia at the 2021 World Junior Championship at Rogers Place in Edmonton, Dec. 27, 2020. (Photo by Matthew Murnaghan/Hockey Canada)
Former Sylvan Lake man lives his dream at World Junior Championships

Mike Langin was one the 25 Canadian officials who worked during the tournament

Alberta Premier Jason Kenney said the Canadian government should consider sanctions on the U.S. if they refuse to reconsider the decision to cancel the Keystone XL Pipeline. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Keystone XL officially cancelled, Kenney vows to fight on

U.S. President Joe Biden cancelled the presidential permit for the pipeline on first day of office

Alberta’s chief medical officer of health, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, updates media on the COVID-19 situation in Edmonton, Friday, March 20, 2020. Hinshaw says residents in long-term care and supportive living facilities will remain the priority as the province grapples with a looming slowdown in COVID-19 vaccine supply. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Alberta long-term care residents remain priority in looming slowdown of COVID vaccine

There are 119 patients in intensive care and 1,463 people have died

FILE - In this Feb. 14, 2017, file photo, Oklahoma State Rep. Justin Humphrey prepares to speak at the State Capitol in Oklahoma City. A mythical, ape-like creature that has captured the imagination of adventurers for decades has now become the target of Rep. Justin Humphrey. Humphrey, a Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season, He says issuing a state hunting license and tag could help boost tourism. (Steve Gooch/The Oklahoman via AP, File)
Oklahoma lawmaker proposes ‘Bigfoot’ hunting season

A Republican House member has introduced a bill that would create a Bigfoot hunting season

FILE - In this Nov. 20, 2017, file photo, Larry King attends the 45th International Emmy Awards at the New York Hilton, in New York. Former CNN talk show host King has been hospitalized with COVID-19 for more than a week, the news channel reported Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021. CNN reported the 87-year-old King contracted the coronavirus and was undergoing treatment at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File)
Larry King, broadcasting giant for half-century, dies at 87

King conducted an estimated 50,000 on-air interviews

Black Press File Photo
Maskwacis RCMP lay charges for attempted murder, kidnapping, and flight from police

Female victim remains in hospital in serious condition.

In this Dec. 18, 2020 photo, pipes to be used for the Keystone XL pipeline are stored in a field near Dorchester, Neb.  THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Chris Machian /Omaha World-Herald via AP
‘Gut punch’: Alberta Premier Jason Kenney blasts Biden on revoked Keystone XL permit

Kenney said he was upset the U.S. wouldn’t consult with Canada first before acting

Joe Biden, then the U.S. vice-president, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau take their seats at the start of the First Ministers and National Indigenous Leaders meeting in Ottawa, Friday, Dec. 9, 2016. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau, Biden to talk today as death of Keystone XL reverberates in Canada

President Joe Biden opposed the Keystone XL expansion as vice-president under Barack Obama

Prince Edward Island’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. A lozenge plant in Prince Edward Island has laid off 30 workers, citing an “almost non-existent” cold and cough season amid COVID-19 restrictions. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
‘Almost non-existent’ cold and cough season: P.E.I. lozenge plant lays off 30 workers

The apparent drop in winter colds across the country seems to have weakened demand for medicine and natural remedies

Gov. Gen. Julie Payette takes the royal salute from the Guard of Honour as she makes her way deliver the the throne speech, Wednesday, September 23, 2020 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Fred Chartrand
Gov. Gen. Julie Payette resigns, apologizes for ‘tensions’ at Rideau Hall

Payette, who is the Queen’s representative in Canada, has been the governor general since 2017

Grounded WestJet Boeing 737 Max aircraft are shown at the airline’s facilities in Calgary, Alta., Tuesday, May 7, 2019. WestJet will operate the first commercial Boeing 737 Max flight in Canada today since the aircraft was grounded in 2019 following two deadly crashes. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
Passengers unfazed as WestJet returns Boeing 737 Max to service on Calgary flight

After a lengthy review process, Transport Canada cleared the plane to return to Canadian airspace

Most Read