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Over the past two decades, a long series of specific and non-specific measures have been introduced into the screening of blood donations in order to reduce the residual risk of transmission of bloodborne viruses. The latest specific measure has been viral nucleic acid testing (NAT), introduced by the European plasma industry in 1995, and subsequently introduced for blood donations in several countries in Europe and elsewhere. NAT was implemented to reinforce the safety of the blood supply; it can detect acute viral infections during the ‘window period’, that were not being detected by the serological screening methods used at that time. To assess the impact of NAT on the safety of the blood supply, it is essential to estimate the residual risk of viral transmission. In this issue, six European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom) that have recently implemented NAT describe their experiences and the results of the evaluation of the residual risk of viral transmission in their blood supply [1-6].


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