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GISAID temporarily lifts ban on authors of Zenodo report

On March 21, a day after GISAID (an open-access influenza genome database launched in 2008) suspended access to all authors of a report posted on Zenodo, the public database reversed its stand and lifted the temporary access restrictions to all the authors.

In an email to The Hindu, a spokesperson of GISAID Media said that it decided to temporarily lift access restriction after the authors reached out to GISAID and “acknowledged receipt of GISAID’s earlier communications” and expressed their “eagerness to resolve the matter expeditiously”.

As per the spokesperson, GISAID reversed its stand and lifted the temporary access restrictions as a “show of goodwill” and did so after it received a reply from the authors soon after the GISAID released a statement on March 21.

“The review is not complete,” the spokesperson said in the email.

“Lifting temporary access restrictions is not, in itself, determinative or otherwise indicative of the conclusion of any data use investigation,” the spokesperson added.

The spokesperson said that the authors were informed that “publishing a work using the data at issue would violate GISAID’s database access agreement. Despite this knowledge, the authors nevertheless published their work, which blindsided GISAID.”

GISAID opened an inquiry when it received a complaint from Chinese CDC researchers about their interaction with two of the co-authors of the report, who “communicated their intent to make certain use of data generated by the China CDC that was non-compliant”.

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GISAID, an open-access influenza genome database, has temporarily lifted the ban on all authors of a report posted on Zenodo, a public database. The ban was lifted after the authors reached out to GISAID and expressed their willingness to resolve the matter. GISAID had suspended access to all authors of the report after it received a complaint from Chinese CDC researchers regarding their interaction with two of the co-authors who communicated their intent to make certain non-compliant use of data generated by the China CDC. While GISAID has lifted the temporary access restrictions as a show of goodwill, the review is not complete and lifting the restrictions is not indicative of the conclusion of any data use investigation, according to a spokesperson of GISAID.

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GISAID (Global Initiative on Sharing Avian Influenza Data) is an open-access database launched in 2008 for sharing influenza genome sequences and related metadata. It was created in response to the avian influenza (H5N1) pandemic in 2004-2006 and aims to promote rapid and transparent sharing of data to enhance pandemic preparedness and response. The database is managed by the GISAID Initiative, a not-for-profit organization registered in Munich, Germany. GISAID is also used for sharing data on other infectious diseases such as SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

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