Red Cross offering COVID-19 antibody tests to its blood donors

(Jake Danna Stevens | AP file photo) A packet of donated blood, taken March 9, 2020, at an American Red Cross donation center in Scranton, Pa. The American Red Cross announced Monday, June 15, 2020, that it would begin testing blood, platelet and plasma donations for COVID-19 antibodies.

The American Red Cross will begin to test all blood donations for COVID-19 antibodies, which will help donors learn if they have been exposed to the coronavirus.

The new testing regimen — which covers all donations of blood, platelets and plasma — goes into effect Monday, and will run for a limited time.

The antibody testing will show whether a donor’s immune system has produced antibodies to the coronavirus, whether that person developed symptoms or not. A positive result, however, does not confirm infection or immunity, the Red Cross warns — and an antibody test is not the same as a diagnostic test, which tells a person whether he or she has COVID-19 now.

Donations will be sent to a lab, where they will be tested for antibodies as well as a routine range of infectious diseases. Donors will get results back within seven to 10 days, through the Red Cross’s blood donor app or the donor portal at RedCrossBlood.org.

There’s no charge for the antibody tests. In fact, the Red Cross — which is trying to prevent a summer shortage of available blood — is offering a $5 Amazon gift card (sent by email) to anyone who donates blood, platelets or plasma during the month of June.

Donations are made by appointment only. To schedule an appointment, use the donor app, go to RedCrossBlood.org, call 1-800-RED-CROSS (1-800-733-2767) or enable the Blood Donor Skill on any Alexa Echo device.