News Release 

COVID-19 news from Annals of Internal Medicine

All coronavirus-related content published in Annals is free

American College of Physicians

Below please find a summary and link(s) of new coronavirus-related content published today in Annals of Internal Medicine. The summary below is not intended to substitute for the full article as a source of information. A collection of coronavirus-related content is free to the public at

1. Opinion: During the COVID-19 pandemic, the public must be protected from research without consent

The COVID-19 pandemic demands a sweeping public health response, however, preventing unnecessary sacrifice of fundamental human rights under the pretext of public health is critical, according to a team of bioethicists from Johns Hopkins University. One area where this concern arises is differentiating public health activities classified as surveillance from those that constitute research. Defining activities as public health surveillance has profound implications, because there is then no further ethical oversight, no legal requirement in the United States for informed consent, and no specific protection for vulnerable participants or communities. The ethical basis for using surveillance data without consent, particularly in emergency situations, is that it serves a compelling common good. While public health activities should proceed without informed consent when it is not possible or would undermine effective public health response. However, researchers should not invoke the Common Rule's public health surveillance exclusion, under questionable pretenses, when there is clearly also a research intent, whether extant or downstream. Storage of data and biological specimens for future research should occur with informed consent. Activities that are truly research should be regulated as such, and public health surveillance should be done with consent if possible. According to the authors, we must execute good governance of the public health surveillance and emergency response infrastructure to maintain the public trust and avoid repeating research abuses of the past. Read the full text:

Media contacts: A PDF for this article is not yet available. Please click the link to read full text. The lead author, Mary Catherine Beach, MD, MPH, can be reached at

2. Occupational Health: A Key to the Control of COVID-19 in Correctional Facilities

COVID-19 has swept through prisons in much the same way it has nursing homes: after being introduced by staff or newly arrived residents, it spreads efficiently, including to many with medical vulnerabilities. Yet, many correctional workers lack basic protections. The authors from Amend at UCSF: Changing Correctional Culture and University of California believe that ensuring community-standard occupational health for correctional staff during COVID-19 will protect prison residents, staff, and their communities. Read the full text:

Media contacts: A PDF for this article is not yet available. Please click the link to read full text. The lead author, David Sears, MD, can be reached through Daryl Norcott at


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