Infectious Diseases

The Price of Blood from COVID-19 Patients May Be Hindering Antibody Test Development in the US

Posted on 2 June 2020

A number of antibody tests became commercially available earlier this year, but were met with disappointment when many of them lacked the accuracy required for individual testing. Nevertheless, efforts to develop effective antibody tests continue. Blood from recovered Covid patients is essential to these efforts, as the only way to confirm the accuracy of a test is to use it on blood samples known to contain antibodies against the virus.

Blood donated to hospitals and blood banks is usually reserved for the experimental treatment of severely ill COVID-19 patients. This means that researchers must source their blood from blood brokers, which pay for blood donations and then sell these samples to diagnostic companies.

For other diseases, such blood samples usually cost $100 at most, depending on the disease’s rarity. However, the rising demand and high cost of acquiring blood from Covid patients is reportedly proving to be a barrier for the development of antibody tests. Stefanie Lenart-Dallezotte, business operations manager for San Diego-based Epitope Diagnostics Inc, said that one broker charged $1000 for the standard 1ml plasma sample:

We’ve had a terrible time trying to obtain positive specimens at a decent rate. I feel people are taking extreme advantage of the situation because they can, because there’s crazy demand.

Journal, D. (2020). Blood of Recovered Covid-19 Patients Is Becoming a Hot Commodity . Retrieved 2 June 2020, from https://www.wsj.com/articles/blood-of-recovered-covid-19-patients-is-becoming-a-hot-commodity-11590744600

References

Blood of Recovered Covid-19 Patients Is Becoming a Hot Commodity: https://www.wsj.com/articles/blood-of-recovered-covid-19-patients-is-becoming-a-hot-commodity-11590744600

COVID-19 animation: Coronavirus and antibody testing explained: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGVPSdp4iLs

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