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South Korea faces lack of virus survivors’ plasma in therapy development


South Korea’s pharmaceutical industry and health authorities are struggling with insufficient blood plasma derived from coronavirus survivors to develop a therapy, officials said Wednesday.

The shortage comes as the Korea National Institute of Health and GC Pharma are working to roll out a plasma therapy in the second half of this year.

A total of 12 people who have recovered from the novel coronavirus have promised to offer their plasmas, as of Wednesday, according to the Korea Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Plasmas of five people have been obtained, far short of at least 100 people needed for therapy development.

“If a plasma therapy is developed, we will be able to offer a new option of treatment for coronavirus patients in critical condition. I hope those who have recovered from COVID-19 actively take part in providing their plasmas,” Choi Won-suk, a professor of the Infectious Disease Division at Korea University Ansan Hospital, said.

A total 10,467 people have been discharged from isolation upon full recovery, as of Wednesday, figures from the KCDC showed.

Choi echoed experts here who are urging virus survivors to join the effort just as actor Tom Hanks and Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli have donated their blood plasmas to medical research.

Recovered adults who have been released from isolation for 14 days or more have to undergo health checkups before donating their plasmas at Korea University Ansan Hospital and Kyungpook National University Hospital among other institutions.

By Kim Bo-gyung (