SEOUL (Reuters) – Around 4,000 recovered COVID-19 patients from a religious
group at the centre of South Korea’s largest outbreak will donate plasma for research,
an official said on Tuesday, a day after local officials filed a lawsuit against the
In February and March, a massive outbreak among members of the Shincheonji
Church of Jesus made South Korea the scene of the first large outbreak outside of
At least 5,213 of the country’s total 12,484 cases have been linked to the church
outbreak, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Church founder Lee Man-hee had internally advised recovered members to donate
their plasma, which is badly needed for coronavirus research, Shincheonji media
coordinator Kim Young-eun told Reuters on Tuesday.
Many of recovered church members wanted to donate to express thanks to the
government and medical staff, she said.
The city of Daegu – where most of the church infections were centred – filed a civil
lawsuit against the church on Monday, seeking 100 billion won ($82.75 million) in
Daegu authorities had previously filed a complaint against the church accusing it of
not submitting a full list of members and facilities, and not cooperating with city
Shincheonji says it fully complied with government efforts.
The National Institute of Health said 185 people have so far come forward to donate
plasma as of Monday and said they were in talks with Shincheonji for donations.
South Korea health officials have said that in the absence of other treatments or
vaccines, plasma therapy may be a way to lower the death rate, especially in critical
At least 17 South Koreans have received the experimental therapy, which involves
using plasma from recovered patients with antibodies to the virus, enabling the body
to defend against the disease.
South Korea has reported 281 deaths from COVID-19.
Health authorities said they were testing 176 people who came into contact with crew
members on a Russian fishing vessel docked at Busan after 16 aboard the vessel were
($1 = 1,208.4500 won)
4,000 Recovered COVID-19 Church Members in South Korea Declare
Donation of $83 Billion Worth Plasma for Cure
A South Korea-based religious group named the Shincheonji Church of Jesus said that over
4,000 members of the church recovered from COVID-19 are willing to donate plasma for
developing a new treatment.
The amount of blood will be about $83 billion worth if the 4,000 patients donate 500ml
individually, according to the current transaction in the United States. “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.
For the first quarter of this year, the rapid virus spread hit the church members in Daegu of
South Korea, where the early signs of the crisis appeared with the controversy over the
massive visitors from China before the infection of church members.
Mr. Man Hee Lee, founder of the Shincheonji Church, said that 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,”
said Mr. Lee.
“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,” said an official in the church.
Some local governments in South Korea recently brought lawsuits against the church with
allegations that the church did not cooperate with the authorities by not submitting the full list
of church facilities and members.
“No evidence has been found that Shincheonji supplied missing or altered lists. And there
were only minor differences,” said Kim Kang-lip, vice-minister of Health. Academic
researches on Shincheonji and COVID-19 stated that the church “provided the list of its
South Korean members six days after it was requested” and “it was initially unclear whether
shut down facilities and properties should be included” when the government asked for the
lists of real estate.
(Shincheonji and Coronavirus in South Korea: Sorting Fact from Fiction – A White Paper
A Shincheonji media coordinator said the church will cooperate fully with investigations from
South Korea reported 12,535 confirmed cases and 281 deaths from COVID-19.