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Monday, May 11, 2020

COVID Survivors’ Blood Plasma Is A Sought-After New Commodity

Diana Berrent learned she had tested positive for COVID-19 on a Wednesday in mid-March. Within a day, she had received 30 emails from people urging her to donate blood.

Friends and acquaintances, aware of her diagnosis, passed along a pressing request from New York’s Mount Sinai Health System, one of the first centers to seek plasma, a blood component, to be used in a therapy that might fight the deadly disease. Berrent, 45, said she immediately recognized the need for the precious plasma — and the demand that would follow.

“When I saw that email going around, I saw what was going to happen in the landscape,” said Berrent, a photographer and mother of two who lives on Long Island. She went on to found Survivor Corps, a grassroots clearinghouse that connects people who have recovered from COVID-19 with organizations eager to collect their blood.

“What I saw was going to emerge was a free market where survivors were a commodity.”

Nearly two months later, Berrent’s prediction is coming true. The coronavirus has infected more than 1.2 million people in the U.S., and now government scientists, academic researchers and for-profit pharmaceutical firms all are scrambling for blood plasma from COVID-19 survivors in hopes of developing a range of potential treatments.


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