OVER 4,000 members of a South Korea-based religious group, the Shincheonji Church of Jesus, who have recovered from coronavirus disease (Covid-19) are donating plasma for research, an official said.
Man Hee Lee, founder of the Shincheonji Church, said members of the church are advised to donate plasma voluntarily.
"As Jesus sacrificed himself with his blood for life, we hope that the blood of people can bring positive effects on overcoming the current situation," he said.
"We had a discussion with the health authorities and tried to establish a plan with details for donation. Some of the recovered members have already donated individually, feeling thankful for the assistance from the government and medical teams. They expressed their will to make contribution to the society," he added.
If each of the 4,000 patients will donate 500ml of plasma, officials said it will be worth $83 billion.
"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.
Early this year, the church has been blamed for the rapid spread of the coronavirus in Daegu, South Korea after it reported outbreak of Covid-19 among its members. Some local governments in South Korea have filed lawsuits against the church, with allegations that it did not cooperate with authorities by not submitting the full list of church facilities and members.
But Kim Kang-lip, vice-minister of Health, said "no evidence has been found that Shincheonji supplied missing or altered lists. And there were only minor differences."
A Shincheonji media coordinator also said the church will cooperate fully with investigations from government agencies.
South Korea has reported 12,535 confirmed cases and 281 deaths from Covid-19 as of June 23, 2020. (PR)