Blood transfusion-associated infections

Keeping the blood supply safe

Blood transfusion is an essential component in any healthcare system. However, even in the best of circumstances, several seemingly uncontrollable factors can make meeting blood supply demands a challenge.

Every year, over 118.5 million blood and plasma donations are collected for use in supportive care worldwide.1 Reliable access to safe blood and blood products is essential for patients who require transfusion to maintain or improve their health or to save their lives.

In 1998, the World Health Organization (WHO) introduced new measures to ensure the safety of donated blood and established a global database to address concerns about the availability, safety and accessibility of blood for transfusion.2

Since then, there have been major developments in mass screening for transfusion-transmissible infections with the identification of new infectious agents and significant improvements in the detection of markers of infection in donated blood.3

However, in many countries the recipients of blood and blood products remain at unacceptable risk of acquiring life-threatening infections that could easily be prevented.4

The incidents, prevalence and type of transfusion-transmitted infections vary by geographic location, with country-level screening programs assessing capacity, infrastructure, costs of screening, available resources, and the presence of region-specific threats.

The WHO recommends quality-assured screening of all donated blood for transfusion-transmissible infections, including HIV, hepatitis B and hepatitis C, Treponema pallidum (syphilis), as well as regional threats to the blood supply, such as Trypanosoma cruzi (Chagas disease) and Plasmodium species (malaria).4

As demand grows for safe blood and blood by-products, laboratories face increased pressure to turn results around quickly, in order to release blood components on time. Increasing constraints on budgets and labor pose an additional challenge, highlighting the need for sustainable holistic solutions.

Laboratories have the opportunity to maximize efficiency of their screening workflow through automation, for example. Key efficiency drivers range from reducing manual touchpoints and human error to driving more predictable turnaround times and freeing-up staff for other more value-adding tasks.


We are dedicated to helping save patients’ lives by providing advanced solutions to enable the protection of the global blood supply from infectious diseases…

Thomas Schinecker
CEO Roche Diagnostics        

Seeing the value in every donation

For more than 30 years, Roche has supported the delivery of safe blood products. Today, blood and plasma screening centers can work with the most comprehensive screening solution on the market.

Our high-throughput molecular and serologic systems enable a new era of efficiency with standardized, fully automated workflows that can be integrated with pre-analytical and post-analytical automation solutions through a fast transportation system. To help laboratories meet all global and regional screening requirements, Roche provides a full menu of highly sensitive and specific assays across nucleic acid testing (NAT) and serology, with:

  • Comprehensive coverage of globally prevalent viral genotypes and variants
  • Ready-to-use reagents that do not require thawing, mixing, or pouring
  • Consistent results across multiple lots, portfolios and platforms through established technologies (ECL & real-time PCR)

As pathogens evolve and new ones emerge, Roche will continue to invest in the development of robust innovations that address the real-world needs of transfusion centers, blood screening labs, and most importantly, patients.

Nucleic acid testing (NAT) and Serology solutions. Bringing safety, reliability, and efficiency to donor screening.
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  1. World Health Organization. Blood safety and availability. [Accessed 17 October 2022]
  2. World Health Organization. Global database on blood safety. [Accessed 17 October 2022]
  3. Busch MP, Bloch EM, Kleinman S. Prevention of transfusion-transmitted infections. Blood. 2019 Apr 25;133(17):1854-1864.
  4. World Health Organization. Screening Donated Blood for Transfusion-Transmissible Infections: Recommendations. [Accessed 17 October 2022]