The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in shortage of blood and platelets at blood banks in the city.
The shutdown of educational institutions, particularly colleges, as also the Work From Home (WFH) situation in many companies, till recently, has made conduct of blood donation camps a difficult prospect.
A number of youths, who used to volunteer to donate blood in the past, are now reluctant as they fear coming into contact with a COVID patient at the blood bank. They seem oblivious of the fact that donors are screened before entry and a sterile environment is maintained at blood banks, says a doctor. The reported rise in dengue cases in the district has led to an acute shortage of platelets, which are required to treat dengue patients.
Notwithstanding the decline in COVID-19 cases and the willingness of various institutions to organise donation camps, the mandatory guidelines like the waiting period of 15 days, after taking the jab, to be eligible for donation, are coming in the way.
“Though dengue starts in July, September and October are the peak months for the proliferation of cases. In August 2020, a total of 597 smear samples were collected and 112 dengue cases detected. This August (2021), 2,197 blood smear samples were drawn of which 417 were found positive for dengue. The positivity rate is more or less the same during both the years,” District Malaria Officer Y. Mani told The Hindu.
She calls for greater awareness and cooperation of the public in checking the breeding of Aedes aegypti mosquito, which breeds in stagnant fresh water, and causes dengue. The government, the Greater Visakhapatnam Municipal Corporation (GVMC), other municipalities and local bodies are taking control measures and awareness programmes through ANMs, ASHA workers and secretariat staff.
“The restrictions on donation of blood for 14 days after receiving the COVID-19 vaccine have to be removed. They are giving rise to apprehensions among many prospective donors on the safety of donating blood after taking the jab. One can understand the restrictions on donation in the initial phase of the pandemic, when the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine was yet to be established,” says A. Sugandhi, Medical Director of A.S. Raja Voluntary Blood Bank, expressing concern at the shortage of platelets.
The Indian Red Cross Society (IRCS) Blood Bank, near Zilla Parishad, has registered a drop in the collection of blood from 5,058 units in 2019-20 to 3,301 units in 2020-21 and platelets from 364 to 86 during the corresponding period, says Medical Officer Lakshmi.