Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

Removal Inquiry

The US National Institutes of Health is looking into the removal of SARS-CoV-2 data from a gene sequence database it oversees, the Wall Street Journal reports.

In June, Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center's Jesse Bloom reported in a preprint posted to BioRxiv that he was able to reconstruct from Google Cloud data some early SARS-CoV-2 sequences that had been deposited in the Sequence Read Archive but later removed. Bloom, as Science reported then, suggested that the sequences had been removed from the database to "obscure their existence."

The New York Times further reported at the time that the researchers who added the sequences to the database had asked the SRA to remove them as they were being updated and would be deposited to a different database. The Times reported in August that those sequences were now housed at a database maintained by China National Center for Bioinformation and that the researchers attributed their removal request to a misunderstanding.

As the Journal reports, the episode concerned three lawmakers in the US, who wrote to NIH Director Francis Collins to seek further explanation. It adds that, in response, Collins said a review at NIH was underway to examine "whether appropriate steps were taken to assess this withdrawal request."

The Scan

Booster for At-Risk

The New York Times reports that the US Food and Drug Administration has authorized a third dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech SARS-CoV-2 vaccine for people over 65 or at increased risk.

Preprints OK to Mention Again

Nature News reports the Australian Research Council has changed its new policy and now allows preprints to be cited in grant applications.

Hundreds of Millions More to Share

The US plans to purchase and donate 500 million additional SARS-CoV-2 vaccine doses, according to the Washington Post.

Nature Papers Examine Molecular Program Differences Influencing Neural Cells, Population History of Polynesia

In Nature this week: changes in molecular program during embryonic development leads to different neural cell types, and more.