Lawmakers want review of NIH's deleted COVID-19 data

Jackie Drees - Print  | 

Two congressmen penned a letter to the National Institutes of Health on July 9 requesting that the agency do a comprehensive review of reports that data on the genetic sequences of early COVID-19 cases was deleted from a public U.S. database, NextGov reported. 

In June, the NIH confirmed it deleted sequences of early COVID-19 cases from its scientific database last year after a Chinese researcher, who submitted the data in March 2020, requested its removal. The agency said submitting investigators have the right to request their data to be withdrawn from its databases. 

After the data was removed, Jesse Bloom, PhD, a virologist at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, said he recovered 13 missing sequences from Google Cloud files; the missing sequences could provide more details into the origin of COVID-19, including that it may have existed in Wuhan, China, before December 2019, according to the report. 

In the letter to NIH Director Francis Collins, Reps. Raja Krishnamoorthi, D-Ill., and Mark Green, R-Tenn., list inquiries into the data removal and how the NIH protects the digital assets it hosts. The lawmakers also asked whether NIH is reviewing this matter and if it can share in which database the deleted information was uploaded after being withdrawn. 

The lawmakers requested answers from NIH by July 14, according to the report.


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