Traditionally, during crises the number of new blood donors increases. However, the current coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic created additional barriers to donate due to governmental prevention measures and increased personal health risks. In this report, we examined how the pandemic affected new donor registrations in the Netherlands, especially among groups with higher risk profiles for severe COVID-19. Additionally, we explored the role of media for blood donation and new donor registrations. We analyzed new donor registrations and attention for blood donation in newspapers and on social media from January until May 2020, in comparison to the same period in 2019. After the introduction of nationwide prevention measures, several peaks in new donor registrations occurred, which coincided with peaks in media attention. Interestingly, people with a higher risk profile for COVID-19 (e.g. due to age or region of residence) were overrepresented among new registrants. In sum, the current pandemic has led to increased new blood donor registrations, despite the associated increased health risks. Time and future studies will have to tell whether these new donors are one-off ‘pandemic’ donors or if they will become regular, loyal donors.