Brigham Young University-Idaho warned on Monday about accounts of college students “intentionally” trying to contract COVID-19 in order to make money by donating plasma with antibodies.
The Idaho university issued a statement saying officials were “deeply troubled” by the alleged behavior and “is actively seeking evidence of such conduct among our student body.”
“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 stated.
“The contraction and spread of COVID-19 is not a light matter,” the statement continued. “Reckless disregard for health and safety will inevitably lead to additional illness and loss of life in our community.”
University officials noted that they had previously cautioned last month that if Idaho or Madison County continue to experience surges in cases, the university may have to switch to fully online learning.
The release also encouraged students who are participating in this behavior to consult financial and mental health resources, saying, “There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety in order to make ends meet.”
Brigham Young University-Idaho has confirmed 109 COVID-19 cases among students and 22 cases among employees.
The Food and Drug Administration permitted convalescent plasmas from COVID-19 survivors to be used as an emergency therapy for those with coronavirus. The FDA states that the plasma that has antibodies “may be effective in treating COVID-19 and that the known and potential benefits of the product outweigh the known and potential risks.”
Two potential plasma donation locations near the university are the Grifols Biomat USA Rexburg location and the BioLife Plasma Services, NPR reported. The first’s website says it gives donors $100 per visit and East Idaho News reported the latter provides $200 for each of the donor’s first two visits.