Companies Sell the Blood of Recovered Coronavirus Patients for Exorbitant Prices

Some biotech companies are cashing in on the race to produce coronavirus antibody tests, taking blood samples from people who have been infected and selling them at exorbitant prices.

The W.H.O. extends the global health emergency as deaths near 240,000, and our New Delhi correspondent paints a portrait of a fearful city.

And the people who give their blood to help the fight against Covid-19 may not realize that it is making such profits for the companies.

Documents, emails and price lists obtained by The New York Times show that several companies around the world are offering to sell Covid-19 blood samples to labs and test manufacturers at elevated prices.

One is Cantor BioConnect in California, which has charged $350 to $40,000 for just a milliliter of blood — less than a quarter of a teaspoon — of blood. Another, the Indian company Advy Chemical, has charged up to $50,000. The more antibodies in the sample, the higher the Exorbitant Prices.

The companies insist they are not profiteering, but doctors call the practice unethical.

“I’ve never seen these prices before,” said Dr. Joe Fitchett, the medical director of Mologic, a British test manufacturer that was offered high-priced samples. “It’s money being made from people’s suffering.”

Researchers who are trying to develop antibody tests need samples taken from people who caught the virus, and whose immune systems learned to make antibodies to fight it off. Competition for the samples has produced shortages.

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That’s particularly true in Britain, where researchers usually rely on the centralized public health system, not the commercial market, to provide samples. For-profit companies are advertising for donors and paying them — $100 in Cantor BioConnect’s case — while British scientists are relying on word of mouth or personal connections to find volunteers.

Aleacia Jenkins, a Covid-19 survivor in Washington State, had planned to provide her blood to Cantor BioConnect. But when she learned of the prices it would charge from a reporter, she changed her mind.

“Anyone trying to take advantage of a pandemic,” she said, “I think that’s really sad and wrong.”

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