Why would you WANT to catch Covid19?

For years, people in the west have questioned China and given the country (and its citizens) names such as inscrutable, reclusive, closed or other more sinister names to define a lack of understanding. Nowadays, I live in China and, although I’m not an American, many of my Chinese friends ask me the question: why do Americans do xxx? The simple answer is that I don’t really know. So, I decided to look a little deeper into some of the questions I was recently asked and this is the first of this series…

I was reading some news and saw a headline: “University warns about college students trying to contract Covid19” The question raised was: Why would anyone WANT to catch Covid19. (https://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/520936-university-warns-about-college-students-trying-to-contract)

The answer is called capitalism and is, in my opinion, a sign of the sad state of affairs in a country which prides itself on being “great”.

A healthy college student is likely to incur a debt of many thousands of dollars. In fact, the average amount is $37,000. Of course, there are richer students who never incur this debt and pay for college or university as they go through. There are more complex courses and longer courses where the debts run into hundreds of thousands and won’t be paid off until the student has been working many years, or even decades. But the average has been deemed at $37,000 per student and is over 1.6 Trillion US dollars at any given time.

US healthcare isn’t cheap, if you’re not insured you can expect to run up a bill in the thousands if you need a trip to the local hospital and into tens of thousands if you need an operation. Chronic illnesses are such that, those who are uninsured will often go without treatment or need to mortgage their homes in order to pay for medical care.

If you need a blood transfusion, you may need to pay several hundred dollars and this situation this has spurred an industry into action. The US Red Cross (the largest blood donations organisation) makes over 2 billion dollars a year selling blood to hospitals at anything from $180 to $300 a pint (about 475ml), this blood is used as plasma and given to patients in need. The fee the patient pays will be in excess of twice the fee the Red Cross received. The Red Cross though, through its collection points, may take this blood as a charity donation. Or, in most cases will make a payment to the donor of between $10 and $60 depending on a variety of factors.

Blood plasma is in short supply right now because it’s used in the treatment of serious Covid19 patient’s therapeutic medicines. Under normal circumstances the payment for a pint (about 475ml) of blood to a donor is around $10 but the surge in demand created by the pandemic has increased this considerably and even more so if the donor carries Covid19 antibodies. Currently only 2% of US blood donations are coming from Covid19 recovered patients, the Red Cross is appealing for more.

It’s actually possible, even if you aren’t a college student with a debt, but are working for a minimum wage of $7:25 (some states a little higher, but nowhere more than $13:00) to make a decent income from donating blood. There are 400 blood collection centres in the USA many of which, with FDA approval, will allow a person to donate twice a week as long as there is a minimum of 48 hours between donations. The American Red Cross though, limits donations. Each donation at the moment will net the donor $60 and, if you have Covid19 antibodies, much more.

Unsurprisingly, in the US, the centre of market capitalism, there are “blood brokers” who will pay as much as $1,000 for a pint of blood if the donor has a certificate of prior infection and recovery and has been clear of all Covid19 symptoms for 2 weeks. A minimum wage earner in the USA makes less than $300 per week, a blood donor who attends twice a week could easily earn more and enjoy free juice and snacks whilst doing so.

So, here we have the answer. College students, like students everywhere, believe they are invincible, they believe they can catch a disease and their robust metabolism, superior stamina, inner body strength, and their youth will cause them to get over it quickly and they can turn this misfortune into a profitable enterprise. This lack of awareness is even more of a problem now they have a President who claims he has been infected, recovered quickly and tells his followers that there isn’t anything to worry about with Covid19: in his own words: “don’t let it take over your life”.

What these young students aren’t considering is that once they attend their “Covid parties”, pick up the virus and are asymptomatic for a few days, or even weeks, they will transmit the disease to others more vulnerable than themselves. Surely these young students will feel some degree of regret if they pass Covid19 to an elderly relative, a sick neighbour or even a healthy individual who fails to recover.

Is the fee for a few pints of blood really worth the life of your friend, neighbour or your grandfather?

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