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Blood brokers are paying up to $1,000 for samples from recovered COVID-19 patients 

Blood brokers are paying up to $1,000 for samples from recovered COVID-19 patients 
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Blood brokers are paying up to $1,000 for scarce samples from recovered COVID-19 patients as they rush to create more antibody tests.

“We’ve had a terrible time trying to obtain positive specimens at a decent rate,” Stefanie Lenart-Dallezotte, manager of business operations for San Diego-based Epitope Diagnostics Inc., which sells an antibody test for COVID-19 told The Wall Street Journal.

Lenart-Dallezotte said she was quoted $1,000 for a one-milliliter sample of convalescent plasma, the part of the blood that contains antibodies. Other blood brokers told the Journal they have been quoted several thousands of dollars. 

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“I feel people are taking extreme advantage of the situation because they can, because there’s crazy demand,” she said.

German supplier Biomex GmbH told the Journal blood demand from its established customers is exceeding supply. That company quotes donors about $271 per sample. 

“We don’t increase prices because of short supply,” Oliver Bosnjak, Biomex’s general manager, told the Journal. “I try to be a reliable partner and serve the market, and get my bills paid.” He said that plasma collected at the donor centers and sold in bulk was generally cheaper than remnant plasma samples because it was easier to obtain at high volumes.

Antibody tests are intended to tell whether someone has recovered from the coronavirus, but existing tests have proven unreliable.

The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention released new guidance Wednesday saying antibody tests should not be used to make decisions such as whether someone can return to work.