Idaho college students may be contracting COVID-19 for higher plasma donor payouts, officials say

Gabrielle Masson - Print  | 

Leaders at Brigham Young University-Idaho in Rexburg said they are "deeply troubled" by reports that some students may be trying to contract COVID-19 so they can give blood to donation centers that are paying more for plasma with virus antibodies, NPR reports. 

"Students who are determined to have intentionally exposed themselves or others to the virus will be immediately suspended from the university and may be permanently dismissed," the university said in a Oct. 12 statement cited by NPR.  

Donation sites close to BYU-Idaho include Grifols Biomat USA Rexburg, which is paying COVID-19 survivors $100 per visit, according to the company's website. People recovering from the disease can potentially donate multiple times, the site reads. Ammon, Id.-based BioLife Plasma Services, another nearby donation center, is paying convalescent plasma donors $200 for each of their first two visits, reports the East Idaho News.

The FDA authorized convalescent plasma as an emergency therapy for COVID-19 patients in late August.  

BYU-Idaho has about 34,000 students on campus and 15,000 online, and recently warned of a potential campus closure due to rising COVID-19 cases.  

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