World Thalassemia Day is being observed today across the globe to raise awareness among people about the condition, preventive measures and ways to avoid its spread among the common people. This year's theme is “Universal access to quality thalassemia healthcare services”.
World Thalassemia Day 2020

Thalassemia is an inherited condition categorised by abnormal production of haemoglobin which leads to improper transport of oxygen due to the damage of red blood cells, similar to instances of exhaustion due to lack of iron in the blood. Also Read: Experiencing Fatigue, Breathlessness? Could Be Iron Deficiency
People with thalassemia have very few red blood cells in the blood which results in mild to severe anaemia. Mild thalassemia may not need treatment, however, more severe conditions require blood transfusions. People suffering from thalassemia can take various measures to manage fatigue by following a healthy diet and a proper exercise regimen.

COVID -19 And Thalassemia Impact:

The SARS-CoV-2 virus increases the risk and dangers to patients suffering from haemoglobin disorders, though haemoglobin disorders are not linked with respiratory ailments the complications involves the vital organs such as the heart, the lungs and immune system. Generally, thalassemia patients are not prone to lung infections as patients with sickle cell disease. Also Read: World Sickle Cell Day: Amazing Ways Nutrition Can Help Manage This Genetic Disorder

However, in particular, adults may have underlying complications like heart disease, liver disease, diabetes and severe iron overload are vulnerable to coronavirus virus attack.

One specific endocrine complication which is often ignored in a thalassemia patient is underactivity of the adrenal glands, in the presence of serious infection, the ability to minimise the effects of infection may be compromised. Thalassemia patients inflicted by the virus should consider this and should also take into account that hormone corticosteroids slow down the clearance of viral RNA from the respiratory tract in coronavirus infections with SAR-CoV-2, MERS-CoV viral strains and this would also increase the complication.

Thalassemia patients, specifically those of the older age groups who have undergone splenectomies are at high risk of bacterial infections which also trigger life-threatening sepsis attack. If these patients are infected by the virus they may also develop secondary bacterial infections.

Effect Of Blood Transfusion:

As per the current data, there is not enough evidence to show that the coronavirus may be spread via blood donation. However, the chance of under-transfusion during the ongoing COVID-19 Pandemic is a threat due to blood donor unwillingness or risk of infection. Besides this, as the whole world is in the grip of COVID-19 there is a shortage of blood available in the blood bank, this issue is being considered by the health authorities across the world and necessary measures are taken.  

So far no cases of respiratory viruses have been reported to be transmitted through blood or blood components.

Precautions To Follow Before Donating Blood:

The World Health Organisation has given a certain recommendation that should be followed while blood donation includes:

  • Donors should be given appropriate education about the need to self-defer if feeling unwell. Persons who had donated blood should intimate the blood centre immediately if they develop a respiratory infection within 28 days of donation.
  • Any individual who has completely recovered from COVID-19, those who are at risk of exposure or ones with travel history should refrain from blood donation for at least 28 days. They should also get clearance after complete recovery from the virology and radiology department.
  • Proper management of blood sample collection to ensure competence, it is recommended that in-house blood donation, as well as outdoor blood donation, can be carried out by following with social distancing norms, infection control guidance and following proper biomedical waste disposal.
  • Infection control measures should be followed by all health care workers as well as blood donors. All blood centres and camp organizers should educate the staff about the following:
  • Proper hand hygiene
  • Cough etiquette
  • To avoid close contact with an infected person
  • Safe disposal of used gloves, masks and other soiled materials.
  • Blood collection to be continued by recruiting healthcare staffs and the donor should be encouraged to come for blood donation at feasible sites.
  • Develop mobile unit services with necessary precaution to enabling blood donors to provide blood.