Nicola Lacetera, The Ethics and Economics of Paying Plasma Donors (The Ethics of COVID)

Ethics of COVID

Join the Centre for Ethics for The Ethics of COVID, an interdisciplinary series of online events featuring short video takes on the ethical dimensions of the COVID crisis.

The Ethics and Economics of Paying Plasma Donors

Compensation for plasma donors—specifically, for the supply of plasma to be used for fractionation—and the establishment of for-profit plasma centers are legal activities in several countries, such as the United States, Czech Republic, and Austria. Many other countries prohibit payments.14 A common feature of most countries that ban compensation is that they run a deficit of plasma for domestic uses; therefore, they rely on imports, most often of plasma collected in countries where compensation is legal because, typically, these countries have a surplus of available plasma. The different legal status of payments to donors around the world and the international plasma procurement and allocation patterns are somewhat exemplary of the challenges in defining contested trades and in determining the reasons for bans to compensation.

In the past weeks, there has been an increased attention toward the collection of convalescent plasma. Convalescent plasma is drawn from someone who has recovered from a virus. When a person is infected with a virus, their body produces antibodies to fight it. These antibodies could be the key ingredient for a treatment to help other people with the same virus. In particular, some research is showing that plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients may help treating infected individuals. This treatment, however, requires very large quantities of plasma from recovered patients.

Should various jurisdictions reconsider their ban of payments, in order to provide stronger incentives?

In this talk, Professor Lacetera will review the ethical and economic arguments for and against compensating plasma donors. He will also review the current evidence on the social support to payments. Finally, he will expand from this specific case to discuss the challenges of policy making in the case of ethically contentious transactions.

This is an online event. It will be live streamed on the Centre for Ethics YouTube Channel at 3pm, Friday, June 12. Channel subscribers will receive a notification at the start of the live stream. (For other events in the series, and to subscribe, visit

➡︎ please register here

Nicola Lacetera
University of Toronto
Department of Management UTM &
Rotman School of Management

Fri, Jun 12, 2020
03:00 PM - 03:30 PM
Centre for Ethics, University of Toronto
200 Larkin