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Letter: Life-saving plasma donations from abroad help find COVID-19 cure

Dear Editor:

In March 2020, the coronavirus was declared a worldwide pandemic. Within a matter of four months, the novel coronavirus has surged impacting local communities on an international level. 

According to the World Health Organization, over 16 million cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed, and over 655,000 deaths have occurred, with numbers continually rising. With fall approaching, many are speculating a second wave of virus spread to happen throughout the world once again, possibly initiating another lock-down. At this critical time, local communities are urged to start paying attention to this issue, and good news regarding advancements in developing a cure emerge. 

As COVID-19 spread rampantly, researchers began diligently searching for a cure. Research determined that blood plasma of those who have recovered from the virus can lead to the development of a vaccine and cure. People who have recovered from COVID-19 have antibodies—proteins the body uses to fight off infections to the disease—in their blood, and from that blood, convalescent plasma can be extracted.

The need for plasma donation has touched the surface of every state, city, town and local community with people who have been diagnosed with the disease. The U.S. currently has the highest cases of coronavirus, topping 4 million. 

In this time of uncertainty and lack of resources, great news comes from over 6,000 miles away. Four thousand members from a South Korean church, called Shincheonji Church of Jesus, have pledged to donate plasma for COVID-19 research. Five hundred of those members have already donated their blood. The others are still waiting, as the resources to receive such numbers of blood donations in this global state of pandemic are sparse. With such a high need for blood, a major donation like this will have great benefits for every member of the global community, including our local community. This donation has the power to positively affect everyone impacted by COVID-19. 

In the midst of giving such a brave donation, this church has been enduring large-scale religious persecutions. The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) announced in March there has been a global issue of scapegoating minority religious groups, in looking for someone to blame for the spread of coronavirus. The worst case, it stated, is towards Shincheonji Church of Jesus. What is more shocking is that this kind of blame, scapegoating and religious oppression is not happening between different religions, but within the same religion of Christianity. 

In South Korea, the traditional, conservative churches have been oppressing and persecuting the more newly-established church, Shincheonji, which showed rapid growth in recent years. These traditional churches have even joined hands with the Korean government recently to launch an all-out attack upon Shincheonji church. This has led to many members of the church facing domestic violence, mistreatment from their community, losing their jobs, and two members being killed. Join the members of Shincheonji in encouraging your local community members who have recovered to donate as well. Follow @FightCOVIDNotVictims on Instagram for developments on this story. Let us fight COVID-19 together. 

Shiminyi Moh, founder of StoneCity Health

(Submitted by Melissa Rivera, of  HWPL)