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The serum is a (liquid) Philosopher’s Stone
Two things Wafner said stand out: the Nazis merely found the serum and they’re using the villagers to refine it. While using them to refine it could simply mean using them as test subjects, it could also refer to the sacs containing people. When Boyce opens one of the sacs liquid pours out and a man who seems to have skin sloughing off sticks his head out. Perhaps these people in the sacs are being liquidized.

This, along with the fact that when working correctly, the serum supposedly grants “eternal life” (and resurrection) feels really evocative of the Philosopher’s Stone.

Other points of note

  • Reddish in color.
  • Nicolas Flamel, famed for allegedly discovering the Philosopher’s Stone, was born and lived in France.

The serum is the blood of the Great Ones.

The serum has rampantly unusual effects on those who consume it, and most commonly induces insanity, beastly behavior, and mutations. As was seen with Wafner toward the end, when the serum regrew his face, it was shockingly bestial - longer teeth, puffy flesh, abnormal growth. It was not just regrowing his body, it was changing it. Making him into one of the beasts.

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When utilized otherwise, it has invigorating and empowering effects, as does the Blood Ministration.

It is a very good thing that the facility was destroyed when it was, and the Allies did not gain access to the serum - certainly, that would have resulted in another Yharnam, Pthumeru and Loran but on a vastly, vastly larger scale; a whole world submerged into the Scourge of Beasts.

However, who is to say that retrieving the substance did not stir the Great Ones in their slumber beneath France?

The serum is a refined version of Herbert West's research.

The notes, having survived the doctor's disappearance, found its way into hands and minds more open-minded than West's, as it now produce results less insane yet more potent than the original formula did, with a higher success rate to its name. The creator of the new formula, following the notes, decided to go straight to the greatest source of bodies they could find, World War II, just like Herbert West did during World War I.

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It's still not perfected though.

The serum is derived from Woden's Blood in the black tar.

I mean, Nazi supersoldiers, Gorn, and all that jazz?

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