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Islam, plasma and making money

The number of coronavirus cases has reached a grim milestone of 8.06 million and more than 436,000people have died across the globe. All countries are taking stern measures in order to contain the outbreak of coronavirus. More than five billion people have now been urged to stay at home.
No vaccine for the novel COVID-19 patients 
Unfortunately, no vaccine for the novel coronavirus has been developed yet. Scientists and virologists around the world including Pakistani scientists have been racing against the clock to develop a vaccine or cure.
New therapies for COVID-19 infection 
Meanwhile, scientists around the world including Pakistan are experimenting with plasma therapy in a bid to contain the outbreak of the coronavirus. In the face of this pandemic, several new experimental therapies are being proposed and tested by medical researchers, including anti-viral drugs which can kill viruses.
Other drugs include immunomodulators that modify the ability of the immune system to fight viruses. Researchers have also looked into medicines used to fight other infections such as the anti-malarial chloroquine, which is thought to help prevent the virus from infecting cells.
Plasma therapy
One such intervention that has been the talk of the town is convalescent serum transfusion, commonly referred to as “plasma therapy”. This treatment modality has previously been used as a desperate last resort step during Ebola outbreaks of 2014, and also in the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (Mers).
The procedure of plasma therapy involves collecting blood from someone who has recovered from coronavirus and transfusing separated plasma to a critically sick patient. Plasma is a clear part of blood that is left when blood cells have been removed and contain antibodies and other proteins.
The transfusion of plasma with its antibodies provides a form of ‘passive immunity’ to the sick recipient to fight the infection. The donor of the plasma must have been previously diagnosed with laboratory-confirmed coronavirus and subsequently test negative for COVID-19 and other respiratory viruses.
Result of plasma therapy
Initial results of a clinical trial conducted at the National Institute of Blood Diseases (NIBD) to assess the efficacy of plasma therapy in treating COVID-19 patients have shown over the “80 percent recovery rate”. Patients were administered with plasma therapy at the stage of moderate to severe disease. The initial outcomes also conform to the results of similar ongoing trials across the world.
In Pakistan, the first COVID-19 patient, including several others who had received plasma therapy, have fully recovered in different hospitals across Pakistan. Many countries including Pakistan have reported recoveries from this therapy.
Sale of plasma forbidden in Islam
The sale of plasma for COVID-19 treatment and even blood under normal circumstances is forbidden according to Islamic teaching. Prominent scholar, Mufti Zubair said it was unworthy to take advantage of someone during these difficult times. He added that it was haram (unlawful) under Shariah law to sell plasma.
The scholar said that the sale of blood even under normal circumstances was prohibited under injunctions from the Holy Quran and Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Peace Be Upon Him).
Many Islamic institutions such as the renowned Al-Azhar Univesity in Cairo have also issued a fatwa (Islamic verdict) warning coronavirus recovered patients that selling plasma is forbidden in Islam. “As for the recovering person to sell his blood plasma, profiting from the pandemic, it is not permissible according to Islamic Sharia”.
The human body, with the flesh and blood it contains, belongs to the Allah the almighty, and it is not the property of the man, and no one has the right to sell what he does not own,” said a statement from Al-Azhar’s Fatwa Global Centre.
Several reports indicated that many patients who have recovered from COVID-19 are selling plasma at exorbitant rates and even on the black market for up to one million rupees.
Ethical responsibility
While providing hope in times of despair is essential to boost morale, it is also the ethical responsibility of the scientific, and medical community, as well as the media, to provide full information to the general public.
It is also the ethical and moral responsibility of individuals who recovered from the coronavirus should voluntarily donate their plasma for COVID-19 patients to save their lives.
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