Ethical Issues in Genetics and Infectious Diseases Research: An Interdisciplinary Expert Review.
Walker A., Bonham VL., Boyce A., Clayton EW., Garcia D., Johnson S., Laeyendecker O., Lewis M., Margolick JB., Mathews D., Parker MJ., Spicer P., Thio CL., Geller G., Kahn J.
PurposeResearch in genetics and infectious diseases (ID) presents novel configurations of ethical, legal, and social issues (ELSIs) related to the intersection of genetics with public health regulations and the control of transmissible diseases. Such research includes work both in pathogen genetics and on the ways that human genetics affect responses to ID. This paper identifies and systematizes the unique issues at this intersection, based on an interdisciplinary expert review.Basic proceduresThis paper presents results of a formal issue-spotting exercise among twenty experts in public health, law and genomics, biobanking, genetic epidemiology, ID medicine and public health, philosophy, ethics and ID, ethics and genomics, and law and ID. The focus of the exercise was on the collection, storage, and sharing of genetic information relating to ID.Main findingsThe issue-spotting exercise highlighted the following ELSIs: risks in reporting to government authorities, return of individual research results, and resource allocation - each taking on specific configurations based on the balance between public health and individual privacy/protection.Principal conclusionsThe public health implications of interactions between genomics and ID frame considerations for equity and justice. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, these issues are especially pressing.