About 4,000 recovered Covid-19 patients from South
Korean-based Shincheonji Church of Jesus will donate their blood, also known as
convalescent plasma, for use in the research and development of a new therapy
that could reduce deaths related to the illness.
Antibodies found in the blood of recovered
Covid-19 patients could help fight off the disease. A recent pilot study
conducted at three hospitals in China found that immune antibodies harvested
from recovered patients appeared to shorten the duration of symptoms, speed up
recovery and improve oxygen levels in those infected.
Researchers hope the blood of recovered
patients can be used to treat the critically ill and that it may curb current
death rates. To progress this research and develop the treatment scientists
need the blood of individuals who have healed but battled to find willing
donors. A previous trial was called off due to low participation.
To aid in the global search for a safe and
effective treatment for Covid-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus,
Shincheonji Church has urged its members to become donors, with roughly 4,000
are expected to give 500ml of blood.
Shincheonji leader Man Hee Lee, who is an
advocate for world peace, personally advised recovered congregants to donate
their plasma for the general good of humanity. “As Jesus sacrificed himself
with his blood for life, we hope that the blood of people can bring positive
effects to achieve a world of peace for future generations,” said Mr. Lee.
After discussions with South Korean health
authorities which highlighted the need for resources to progress treatment
research, the church decided to create a plan for the donation. “Some of the
recovered members have already donated individually, feeling thankful for the
assistance from the government and medical teams,” a Shincheonji representative
said. “They expressed their willingness to make this contribution to society.”
There is currently no vaccine or drug proven
to be widely effective in limiting the spread of the coronavirus pandemic,
though various nations are researching treatment options. A breakthrough in the
search for a cure from South Korea would help to lower the mortality rate in
Southern Africa, and to contain the economic damage suffered from lockdown
African nations have mostly reported lower
infections and more slowly than their global counterparts, meaning the full
impact of the virus on the continent remains to be seen. With vulnerable
healthcare systems throughout the region the discovery of an effective
treatment would be lifesaving.