There is a growing concern that people who are desperate for some extra spending money are intentionally getting COVID-19 so they can later sell their plasma. People who have recovered from COVID are encouraged to donate their plasma because their blood will contain antibodies that could help others fight the illness.
The FDA says plasma “may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks of the product.”
Administrators at Brigham Young University’s campus in Idaho announced that they were investigating multiple cases of students intentionally getting sick with COVID so they can cash in on their plasma donation. The school has also threatened to suspend any students who are found to intentionally contract the virus.
“BYU-Idaho is deeply troubled by accounts of individuals who have intentionally exposed themselves or others to COVID-19, with the hope of getting the disease and being paid for plasma that contains COVID-19 antibodies…The contraction and spread of COVID-19 is not a light matter. Reckless disregard for health and safety will inevitably lead to additional illness and loss of life in our community,” the school said in a statement.
Each donation site has different offers for potential donors, but East Idaho News found locations close to the school that offered as much as $200 for their first visits. Many of these locations allow people to donate multiple times.
BYU-Idaho is offering financial help and mental health services to students who are feeling desperate.
“If students are struggling, BYU-Idaho stands ready to help. There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety in order to make ends meet,” the school said.
However, many people are in situations where they have no choice but to endanger their health to make ends meet, especially people who are forced to deal with the public every day during a pandemic in order to keep a steady paycheck. Tuition alone at BYU runs an average of close to $20,000, which would likely be a factor that would push a person to put themselves in danger for some extra money.
BYU is located in Rexburg, Idaho, which the New York Times recently ranked as a nationwide hotspot. BYU has confirmed 119 active student cases of COVID-19 and 20 active employee cases as of Tuesday. In response to the explosion in cases, the school recently warned that it is considering a switch to remote learning.
The problem of plasma donation centers preying on poor and desperate people is nothing new. According to ABC, nearly 80 percent of the plasma centers in the U.S. are located in America’s low-income neighborhoods. They also tend to target college students and cluster around college campuses.
Of course, the donation of plasma is important and should be encouraged, but there is also a problem with predatory practices that should not be ignored. The fact that people are putting themselves in danger for a few extra dollars also illustrates how this system is failing people.
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