Oslo blood bank faces shortage of African blood

Oslo's blood bank is calling for donations from Norwegians with foreign parents after developing a shortage of African blood.

Oslo blood bank faces shortage of African blood
Youmna (right) had an inherited form of sickle cell anaemia, and requires frequent blood transfusions. Photo: Oslo Blood Bank
“The demand for rare or exotic blood has increased noticeably,” Lise Sofie Nissen-Meyer, the lead doctor at the bank, told Norway’s state broadcaster NRK. “We have a great need for more blood donors of foreign origin.” 
Norway’s strict criteria for blood donation effectively rule out first generation immigrants from Somalia and other African countries, where malaria and HIV are common. 
“Immigrants who have lived more than five years in African countries such as Somalia cannot be blood donors in Norway,”  Nissen-Meyer said. “But they can nonetheless have accidents or get diseases that mean they need blood.” 
This has made the bank desperate for donors with African backgrounds who have lived their whole lives in Norway. 
To qualify the donors cannot have spent over six months in an area where malaria is common, cannot have lived for over five years in sub-Saharan Africa and cannot have lived with anyone with hepatitis B.
“We have a great need for more blood donors of foreign origin. Because of the strict rules on communicable diseases, it is particularly second generation immigrants who are interesting for us,” Nissen-Meyer said. 
Distribution of blood types from the ABO system does not differ markedly between northern Europeans and Africans although African populations have a higher percentage of people with O-type blood, and a lower percentage of those with A-type blood. 
But, there are situations where the difference is more marked and more critical in healthcare terms. 
This means that Black Africans, such as those suffering sickle cell anaemia, who require regular blood transfusions may develop antibodies to certain blood groups common in people of Northern European origin and begin to require blood only from Black African or Black Caribbean donors. 


Danish health agency says 400,000 could have been infected

Denmark's infectious diseases agency SSI has estimated that the true number of people who have had coronavirus is between 30 and 80 times larger than the roughly 5,000 who have so far tested positive.

Danish health agency says 400,000 could have been infected
The estimate is built in part on analysis of 1,000 samples of blood given by donors. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix
This means that as many as 400,000 people in the country could have already been infected with the virus. 
The shock figure, which draws on analysis of blood donors in the country, was included in a status report published on Tuesday by the Danish Health Authority. 
“There is a lot of contagion in Danish society, and there is a huge dark figure,” Kåre Mølbak, the agency's head, told the Berlingske newspaper. 
“In the blood donor studies that have been done, you can see that maybe 70 times more people have had the infection than we can see in the statistics.” 
A study of 1,000 blood donations given between April 1 and April 3 found that 3.5 percent had been infected with the virus, which  would indicate that 65,000 people had probably already been infected by March 26. 
SSI's estimate also drew on studies made in Germany and Iceland.