Blood reserves in Germany run critically short due to corona crisis

Levels of blood reserves in German hospitals are falling to critically low levels due to the coronavirus crisis, impeding efforts of the Red Cross to find donors.

Blood reserves in Germany run critically short due to corona crisis
A woman donates blood in Berlin. Photo: DPA

In the states of Baden-Württemberg and Hessen, the local Red Cross no longer has enough reserves to cover a whole day of hospital operations, according to a report Wednesday from public broadcaster ARD.

Levels are also dangerously low in Berlin, Hamburg, Saxony and Brandenburg. One of the few federal states not hit by the scarcity is Bavaria, which still has blood reserves for over four days.

READ ALSO: 'Masks are in short supply': How coronavirus has hit Germany's frontline workers

“This is the lowest levels of reserves I’ve seen in my career,” Eberhard Weck of the Red Cross in Baden-Württemberg told ARD.

The low levels of blood reserves could be critical if hospitals were hit by a large scale emergency involving significant numbers of patients.

“We would have a big problem then,” the Red Cross’ Stephan Küpper told ARD, adding that local reserves were so low that blood would have to be called in from other parts of the country.

The reason for the shortage is the corona crisis. Although people are as willing as ever to donate blood, opportunities to do so have been limited by the lockdown.

Mobile blood banks, which normally visit universities, schools and companies, have been out of action for weeks due to the fact that universities are closed and most companies have told their employees to work from home. Opportunities to donate at hospitals have also been restricted by the crisis.

The Red Cross is encouraging everyone who can to visit a blood donation centre on the few days when appointments are still possible. The organisation predicts that the shortages could last until the end of the year.

READ ALSO: How people in Germany have been showing their solidarity during the corona crisis

“Everyone who is willing and able needs to donate blood,” Weck told ARD.

Information on booking blood donation appointments across the country is available on the Red Cross’ website via the following link.


Member comments

  1. Does anybody have info on whether the Red Cross accepts donations from people cannot speak German? I have tried Charite and Haema, but both have turned me down because I cannot answer their questions in German. Thanks!

  2. A source for a list of the requirements in English for eligibility / ineligibility for being a blood donor would be very useful. Thank you.

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Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany’s spending in pandemic

The German Constitutional Court rejected challenges Tuesday to Berlin's participation in the European Union's coronavirus recovery fund, but expressed some reservations about the massive package.

Court turns down AfD-led challenge to Germany's spending in pandemic

Germany last year ratified the €750-billion ($790-billion) fund, which offers loans and grants to EU countries hit hardest by the pandemic.

The court in Karlsruhe ruled on two challenges, one submitted by a former founder of the far-right AfD party, and the other by a businessman.

They argued the fund could ultimately lead to Germany, Europe’s biggest economy, having to take on the debts of other EU member states on a permanent basis.

But the Constitutional Court judges ruled the EU measure does not violate Germany’s Basic Law, which forbids the government from sharing other countries’ debts.

READ ALSO: Germany plans return to debt-limit rules in 2023

The judgement noted the government had stressed that the plan was “intended to be a one-time instrument in reaction to an unprecedented crisis”.

It also noted that the German parliament retains “sufficient influence in the decision-making process as to how the funds provided will be used”.

The judges, who ruled six to one against the challenges, did however express some reservations.

They questioned whether paying out such a large amount over the planned period – until 2026 – could really be considered “an exceptional measure” to fight the pandemic.

At least 37 percent of the funds are aimed at achieving climate targets, the judges said, noting it was hard to see a link between combating global warming and the pandemic.

READ ALSO: Germany to fast-track disputed €200 billion energy fund

They also warned against any permanent mechanism that could lead to EU members taking on joint liability over the long term.

Berenberg Bank economist Holger Schmieding said the ruling had “raised serious doubts whether the joint issuance to finance the fund is in line with” EU treaties.

“The German court — once again — emphasised German limits for EU fiscal integration,” he said.

The court had already thrown out a legal challenge, in April 2021, that had initially stopped Berlin from ratifying the financial package.

Along with French President Emmanuel Macron, then chancellor Angela Merkel sketched out the fund in 2020, which eventually was agreed by the EU’s 27 members in December.

The first funds were disbursed in summer 2021, with the most given to Italy and Spain, both hit hard by the pandemic.