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Donated blood is collected at Bloodworks Northwest on March 17 in Seattle, Washington. Photo: Karen Ducey/Getty Images

Gay men, bisexual men and their female partners can now donate blood after a three-month waiting period, instead of the previously required 12-month span, the Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday.

What's happening: The Red Cross says the novel coronavirus pandemic has caused "a severe blood shortage," as more states issue stay-at-home orders and cities enter lockdowns to fight the spread of COVID-19.

  • Roughly 2,700 Red Cross blood drives had been canceled across the U.S. as of March 17, resulting in 86,000 fewer donations.

Details: The new policy is effective immediately, per the agency's guidance, and is "expected to remain in place after the COVID-19 pandemic ends," the FDA said.

  • To explain the change, the FDA said Canada and the U.K. did not report safety concerns after installing three-month wait periods for blood donations from gay men.
  • The FDA also said the adjustment is scientifically supported, since "nucleic acid testing for HIV, HBV, and HCV" works "well within a three-month period following initial infection."

Of note: People who have traveled to malaria-endemic countries can now donate blood after a three-month waiting period under the new policy, as well as those with recent tattoos and piercings.

Go deeper: U.S. coronavirus updates: Death toll tops 5,000

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
6 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

Mike Allen, author of AM
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

America on borrowed time

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Economic recovery will not be linear as the world continues to grapple with the uncertainty of the pandemic.

Why it matters: Despite being propped up by an extraordinary amount of fiscal stimulus and support from central banks, the state of the global economy remains fragile.

Scoop: Gina Haspel threatened to resign over plan to install Kash Patel as CIA deputy

CIA Director Gina Haspel. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

CIA Director Gina Haspel threatened to resign in early December after President Trump cooked up a hasty plan to install loyalist Kash Patel, a former aide to Rep. Devin Nunes (R-Calif.), as her deputy, according to three senior administration officials with direct knowledge of the matter.

Why it matters: The revelation stunned national security officials and almost blew up the leadership of the world's most powerful spy agency. Only a series of coincidences — and last minute interventions from Vice President Mike Pence and White House counsel Pat Cipollone — stopped it.