WASHINGTON D.C. — Days before the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, founder of Shincheonji Church and Korean War Veteran, Mr. Man Hee Lee, announced that more than 4,000 church members who recovered from COVID-19 are willing to donate their plasma in an effort to develop a global antibody treatment for the virus.
“As Jesus sacrificed himself with his blood for life, we hope that the blood of our people can bring positive effects on overcoming the current situation,” said Mr. Lee.
The monetary worth of the donation is equal to about $83 million, as each of the 4,000 patients plan to donate 500ml. An official from Green Cross Pharma, a leading South Korean biotechnology company said, “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 will solve the problem of the lack of blood for research.”
The South Korean 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, according to Reuters.
“We had a discussion with the health authorities and tried to establish a plan with details for the mass 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 a contribution to the society,” said an official in the church.
The donations come amid government lawsuits against the church. Local governments in South Korea are alleging the church did not cooperate with authorities during the peak of South Korea’s fight against COVID-19, when the majority of new cases were traced back to the church’s congregation in Daegu, South Korea.
“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 researchers and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom have both gone on record stating that the church cooperated fully with the government’s requests.
South Korea reported 12,535 confirmed cases and 281 deaths from COVID-19.
(Shincheonji and Coronavirus in South Korea: Sorting Fact from Fiction – A White Paper
(The Global Response to the Coronavirus: Impact on Religious Practice and Religious Freedom – https://www.uscirf.gov/sites/default/files/2020%20Factsheet%20Covid-19%20and%20FoRB.pdf)