NIH reviewing removal of early COVID-19 genetic sequences from database 

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The National Institutes of Health is examining the removal of COVID-19 virus genetic data from its archive after a scientist in June raised concerns about the withdrawal, The Wall Street Journal reported Sept. 13. 

Five things to know: 

1. The Journal reported June 23 that NIH erased gene sequences of early COVID-19 cases from its scientific database in June 2020 at the request of a Chinese researcher who submitted the information. 

2. Without the data, U.S. scientists studying the origin of the pandemic may now lack access to key pieces of information, some virologists said. 

3. The Chinese researchers requested the data be deleted in June 2020 from NIH's Sequence Read Archive because they had updated the information and planned to post it in another unspecified database, according to the publication. 

4. Three Republican senators in June pushed for a review into deleted data. In a Sept. 8 reply to the senators, NIH Director Francis Collins said a review was underway to determine "whether appropriate steps were taken to assess this withdrawal request."

5. NIH told the Journal that the review has been completed and that NIH leaders are reviewing the findings to decide whether policy changes are needed, according to the report.

 

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