US and India based Biotech companies alleged of selling blood from COVID-19 survivors at exorbitant prices

indica News Bureau-

With coronavirus cases increasing across the world day by day, some biotech companies are taking advantage of the situation and selling blood samples from infected patients and at exorbitant prices. They are cashing in on the race to produce the coronavirus antibody tests going on the in the world to find a cure. 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.

However, the innocent people who are donating blood to such companies have no idea that their blood is being used by companies for making huge profits.

One such company is Cantor BioConnect in California, that 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 price.

Doctors have called the practice unethical, despite companies refusing profit-making from the samples.

“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, NYT reported.

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.

The malpractice is also leading to aware survivors from refusing to donate blood as they too feel that the selling of blood samples by the companies at such high rates, is taking advantage of the people and is absolutely unethical.

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.”