A South Korea-based religious group named Shincheonji Church of Jesus said that over 4,000 members of the church recovered from COVID-19 are willing to donate plasma for developing a new treatment on June 23rd.
The amount of blood will be about $83 billion worth if the 4,000 patients donate 500ml individually, according to the current transaction in the United States. “It is difficult to accelerate developing a medicine for COVID-19 with only 200 recovered patients who expressed their will to donate blood. The massive donation from the recovered patients in the Shincheonji Church will solve the problem of the lack of blood for research,” said an official from Green Cross Pharma, a biopharmaceutical company in South Korea.
The plasma therapy can be developed rapidly but difficult to mass-produce. Although the health authority of Korea has said that at least 130 to 200 people’s plasma is needed to develop the treatment, the plasma of about 200 recovered patients who expressed to donate can only be used after passing several tests to see if it is suitable to develop the treatment. In other words, the more plasma donors there are, the better it is. Therefore, it is expected that the development of the plasma treatment for COVID-19 will speed up if 4,000 members of the Shincheonji Church donate plasma.
As of June 23, the number of virus patients of COVID-19 in South Korea is 12,400. 5,213 people, which accounts for 42% of all are the members of Shincheonji Church. In February, COVID-19 spread rapidly among the members of the church in Daegu, a local Shincheonji Church. It worsened public opinion, leading to a public apology from Mr. Man-hee Lee, the founder of the Shincheonji Church.
Some people say that Shincheonji Church may have this declaration to lead public opinion favorably while prosecutors are investigating whether the Daegu church deliberately omitted the list of the members during the Korean health authority's epidemiological investigation.
In response to this view, an official of Shincheonji Church said "the declaration was made voluntarily by the members who want the COVID-19 treatment to be developed as soon as possible.” “we will faithfully response to the government's investigation, including the prosecution's investigation regardless of the declaration" he added.