Abstract

Background - There is growing evidence to support the hypothesis that SARS-CoV-2 is probably not transmissible by blood transfusion. In this study, we use the data gathered over one year by the French haemovigilance network on post-donation information related to SARS-CoV-2, and virological investigations on corresponding plasma to explore viral transmission by transfusion.
Materials and methods - Whenever a donor reported COVID-19 symptoms and/or a positive SARS-CoV-2 nasopharyngeal (NP) PCR test, information regarding diagnosis and symptoms was collected using a specific questionnaire, and repository plasmas were screened using the SARS-COV-2 R-GENE® assay (Biomérieux). RNA sequencing (Sanger and deep sequencing) and virus isolation on
Vero E6 cells were applied in plasma from donors testing positive.
Results - We investigated 1,092 SARS-CoV-2-related post-donation information (PDI) reports. PDI donors were younger than the global donor population and donated more often in the Paris region. Sixty-eight percent reported a positive NP real-time (RT)-PCR or antigenic testing and 22% of these also had symptoms at the time of testing. Thirty-seven (3.4%) donations tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA, 11 (30%) were confirmed by another molecular assay, and 7 (19%) by sequencing, confirming low viral level. Most RNAemic blood donors donated in southern regions and in Paris. There was no difference in demographic data or duration parameter between RNAemic and non-RNAemic donors. Duration parameter was determined as the time elapsed between donation and: i) the onset of symptoms; ii) a positive NP RT-PCR; and iii) PDI. Cell culture experiments did not show any infectivity related to RNAemic plasmas.
Discussion - SARS-CoV-2 RNA can be detected in a small fraction of blood donors with PDI, reporting very low levels of RNA. The corresponding plasma is probably not infectious. These findings highlight the value of haemovigilance and PDI to
guide blood safety strategies.

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Authors

Pierre Cappy - Centre National de Référence Risques Infectieux Transfusionnels, Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine, Paris, France; CNR Risques Infectieux Transfusionnels, Laboratoire de virologie, Hôpitaux Universitaires Henri Mondor, Créteil, France

Saadia Legrain-Jbilou - Etablissement Français du Sang, La Plaine Saint-Denis, France

Lila Chabli - Etablissement Français du Sang, La Plaine Saint-Denis, France

Melissa N’Debi - Laboratoire de Virologie, Hôpitaux Universitaire Henri Mondor, Paris, France

Pierre Gallian - Etablissement Français du Sang, La Plaine Saint-Denis, France; Unité des Virus Émergents (UVE) Aix-Marseille Université - IRD 190 - Inserm 1207 – IHU Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, France

Nadège Brisbarre - Unité des Virus Émergents (UVE) Aix-Marseille Université - IRD 190 - Inserm 1207 – IHU Méditerranée Infection, Marseille, France

Josiane Pillonel - Santé Publique France, Département des maladies infectieuses, Saint-Maurice, France

Pascal Morel - Etablissement Français du Sang, La Plaine Saint-Denis, France; UMR 1098 INSERM, Université de Franche-Comté, Besançon, France

Syria Laperche Laperche - Centre National de Référence Risques Infectieux Transfusionnels, Institut National de la Transfusion Sanguine, Paris, France; Laboratoire des virus d’intérêt transfusionnel et émergents, Marseille, France; Direction médicale, EFS Siège, Saint Denis, France

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