‘Money being made from people’s suffering’: Selling blood samples from coronavirus survivors

| May 6, 2020
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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.

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 price.

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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.”

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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