Introduction: The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in a historic public health crisis with widespread social and economic ramifications. The pandemic has also affected the blood supply, resulting in unprecedented and sustained blood shortages. Areas Covered: This review describes the challenges of maintaining a safe and sufficient blood supply in the wake of natural disasters, humanitarian emergencies, and pandemics. The challenges, which are accentuated in low- and high-income countries, span the impact on human capacity (affecting blood donors and blood collections personnel alike), disruption to supply chains, and economic sustainability. COVID-19 imparted lessons on how to offset these challenges, which may be applied to future pandemics and public health crises. Expert Opinion: Pandemic emergency preparedness plans should be implemented or revised by blood centers and hospitals to lessen the impact to the blood supply. Comprehensive planning should address the timely assessment of risk to the blood supply, rapid donor recruitment, and communication of need, measures to preserve safety for donors and operational staff, careful blood management, and resource sharing.
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