The blood business is booming.
This normally obscure trade has been set alight by the race to develop Covid-19 antibody tests, which use blood to tell whether someone has already been infected with the coronavirus. The tests are seen as key to easing lockdowns that have shut down economies around the world.
However, while surging demand has proven a boon for the traders known as blood brokers who source this commodity, diagnostic companies say high prices for the blood of recovered Covid-19 patients are posing a hurdle to developing tests.
“We’ve had a terrible time trying to obtain positive specimens at a decent rate,” said Stefanie Lenart-Dallezotte, manager of business operations for San Diego-based Epitope Diagnostics Inc., which sells an antibody test for Covid-19. “I feel people are taking extreme advantage of the situation because they can, because there’s crazy demand.”
She said one broker quoted $1,000 for a one-milliliter sample of convalescent plasma, a term for the antibody-containing part of the blood from recovered patients.
Executives at other diagnostics companies say they have been quoted prices of several thousand dollars for one milliliter of plasma.