Brazil passes law to speed up sending of genetic heritage data abroad

Procedures should be simplified in public health emergencies

Published in 20/04/2021 - 13:06 By Karine Melo - Brasília

Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro on Tuesday (Apr. 20) sanctioned the law governing the procedures on sending samples with genetic heritage data overseas in epidemiological scenarios with major public health concerns. The initiative aims to speed up, simplify, and devise strategies for the development of therapeutic products.

The law eases the protection of Brazilian genetic heritage established in a 2015 law, but mandates that its application should take place in “epidemiological settings leading to a public health emergency.”

The move is crucial for the development of research aiming to tackle calamity situations, like the COVID-19 pandemic. In such cases, sending genetic heritage information overseas can speed up the search for solutions of national interest in collaboration with international partners, a note issued by the president’s office reads.

Legal limitations

“When a large number of microcephaly cases linked to the Zika virus in infants were discovered, even after the Health Ministry declared it a health emergency, certain legal limitations became conspicuous. Unprecedented scenarios, like the one seen, require all collaboration possible and available. The cooperation of scientists, researchers, and health agencies in other countries and international organizations is key,” the text goes on to mention.

As a result of legal obstacles, the statement adds, great difficulty hindered the efforts to send samples of the Zika virus to foreign scientists and institutions on the occasion. This led to a delay in diagnosis and the concerning measures.

Translation: Fabrício Ferreira -  Edition: Valéria Aguiar / Nira Foster

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