Brigham Young University-Idaho is reporting that its students may have intentionally tried to contract COVID-19. According to a statement issued Monday, BYU-Idaho students were exposing themselves to COVID-19 to donate plasma to donation centers, which are offering to pay a premium for plasma with COVID-19 antibodies.
Now, the university is threatening students with immediate suspension and possible expulsion. They are currently seeking evidence of students intentionally getting infected.
“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 said.
At the end of September, BYU-Idaho warned students of a possible campus closure in light of increasing COVID-19 cases in the region and on campus. In their latest statement, they upheld the warning. The university’s COVID-19 dashboard reports 119 active cases among students as of Wednesday.
Payment for Plasma
According to NPR, possible donation sites for BYU-Idaho students include the Grifols Biomat USA Rexburg location. Its website advertises its close proximity to campus and has a page dedicated to COVID-19 survivors in an effort to collect plasma.
“As a special thanks, those who give convalescent plasma will earn $100 per visit,” the company says on its site. They add, “As your body produces more to maintain your immunity, you can potentially donate multiple times.”
In August, the FDA approved the use of convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors as emergency treatment for those with COVID-19.
East Idaho News reports that BioLife Plasma Services in nearby Ammon also pays plasma donors $200 each for their first two visits.
In their statement, BYU-Idaho recognized that the physical, emotional, and financial strain of the pandemic is “very real” for many students. They emphasized that students should seek out campus resources if they are having issues.
“If students are struggling, BYU-Idaho stands ready to help,” BYU-Idaho said. “There is never a need to resort to behavior that endangers health or safety in order to make ends meet. “