Posted: August 31, 2016 Contributor: administrator

FDA to Test Donated Blood for Zika Virus

According to Reuters, the Food and Drug Administration is calling for all blood banks to test donations for the Zika virus, even if the bank is not in a “Zika area.” By testing the donated blood, the FDA hopes to eliminate the risk of passing the virus through the blood supply. The FDA has fast-tracked the approval of a Zika diagnostics test manufactured by Swiss drug maker, Roche, which will be used to test blood at blood banks in the United States and Puerto Rico, where Fortune reported that 1% of donated blood has already tested positive. The emergency authorization of this test by the FDA meant that it had to bypass the “ordinary channels” of approval in the effort to combat Zika.

Peter Marks, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, reports that there are over 8,000 travel-associated and over 2,000 non-travel associated cases of Zika virus in the United States and territories. Because so many U.S. citizens travel, there is a risk of donors transmitting the virus even if they themselves don’t experience symptoms. Labs have started testing blood in Puerto Rico and will shortly move to the United States. Testing will begin in Florida where Zika is most present and move into parts of Alabama and South Carolina. The FDA made this decision based on the concern that tainted blood could unwittingly be given to a pregnant woman, putting her baby at risk for birth defects. Hopefully, the FDA’s plan will eliminate these terrible consequences and keep our blood banks safe.

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