During the Omicron surge, the American Red Cross, which supplies 40% of the nation’s blood, experienced its worst shortage in over a decade. In January, it was forced to declare its first-ever blood crisis.
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a 10% decline in the number of people donating blood, and that continues to be an issue, especially with staff limitations and blood drive cancellations due to the virus. With each new variant, doner numbers keep decreasing.
“While some types of medical care can wait, others can’t,” Dr. Pampee Young, chief medical officer of the Red Cross, said at the time. “Hospitals are still seeing accident victims, cancer patients, those with blood disorders like sickle cell disease, and individuals who are seriously ill who all need blood transfusions to live even as Omicron cases surge across the country. We’re doing everything we can to increase blood donations to ensure every patient can receive medical treatments without delay, but we cannot do it without more donors. We need the help of the American people.”
All blood types are needed, particularly O positive and O negative, as well as platelet donations, according to the Red Cross.