Preliminary findings of a survey of blood component use in COVID-19 patients

29 October 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic in England has required us and hospitals to respond and mitigate the effect on the supply and demand for blood components. So, we're carrying out this survey to try to establish current levels of blood component use by swab positive COVID-19 patients admitted to hospital. 

The aims of the survey are to determine in hospitalised COVID-19 patients: 

  1. The proportion who received a transfusion 
  1. The number and type of transfusions received 
  1. If there was an association with transfusion and the patient’s blood group 
  1. Confirm results of previous international studies that blood use in this patient group was minimal. 

65 hospital sites contributed data. There were 1631 (65%) transfusions to male (65%) and 869 (35%) to female patients.

The preliminary findings are: 

  • The majority of COVID-19 patients who required a transfusion received 1 unit of red cells with more components used proportionately in ITU and ECMO settings 
  • There were no major differences in the distribution of blood groups between the normal UK population and transfused COVID-19 patients treated on wards, ITUs or with ECMO. 
  • The data on blood use for patients with COVID-19 confirms that their transfusion requirements were small. This low blood use combined with postponement of much elective clinical activity allowed continuation of a sufficient blood supply despite a major reduction in blood donations at the beginning of the pandemic in England. 

We will produce a full report when the survey is completed (data collection is ongoing) and will let you know where you can find it. 

Read the interim report


Mike Murphy        Consultant Haematologist, NHSBT / Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust

Louise Sherliker   National Lead,  Patient Blood Management Team

Brian Hockley      Data Analyst and Clinical Audit Manager