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Questioning Consent

Obtaining informed consent may not be necessary to conduct biobank research, says a group of ethicists from Uppsala University in Sweden. In the British Medical Journal, the authors argue that biobank research is an instance in which personal freedoms may be restricted for societal benefit. "Just as I benefit from a clean environment regardless of who has refrained from polluting it, I benefit from increased medical knowledge obtained through biobank research regardless of whose sample has been used," the authors say. Then, they add that stored tissues and data may be used without informed consent as long as approval is obtained from an ethics board. As Nature's News Blog notes, such a system would go against guidelines set by the UNESCO International Declaration on Human Genetic Data and the Council for International Organizations of Medical Sciences. "In a way that is the purpose of the paper: to question those guidelines," lead author Joanna Forsberg tells Nature News.

The Scan

Not as High as Hoped

The Associated Press says initial results from a trial of CureVac's SARS-CoV-2 vaccine suggests low effectiveness in preventing COVID-19.

Finding Freshwater DNA

A new research project plans to use eDNA sampling to analyze freshwater rivers across the world, the Guardian reports.

Rise in Payments

Kaiser Health News investigates the rise of payments made by medical device companies to surgeons that could be in violation of anti-kickback laws.

Nature Papers Present Ginkgo Biloba Genome Assembly, Collection of Polygenic Indexes, More

In Nature this week: a nearly complete Ginkgo biloba genome assembly, polygenic indexes for dozens of phenotypes, and more.