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The 5th ELSI Congress - ELSIcon2022

ELSIcon2022 Flash: Health professionals’ perspectives on the ethics of using COVID-19 host genomic information for clinical and public health decision-making during the pandemic


ELSIcon2022 • Flash • May 31, 2022

Sheethal Jose, Gail Geller, Juli Bollinger, Jeffrey Kahn, Brian Garibaldi

Advances in host genomics research can play an important role in enabling precision medicine and precision public health approaches for the clinical management and public health control of the COVID-19 pandemic. The implementation of genetic testing for variants associated with infectious diseases raises several ELSI issues, including genetic determinism since several non-genetic factors influence exposure to and severity of COVID-19. As an important stakeholder group, health professionals (HPs) can provide key insights into these ELSI issues. In September 2021, a cross-sectional survey was fielded to understand how HPs view the value and ethical acceptability of using COVID-19 host genomic information (HGI) across 3 main decision-making contexts: (1) hospital-based clinical decisions, (2) public health decisions, and (3) workforce decisions. The survey also assesses HPs’ beliefs related to genetic determinism and their perspectives on non-genetic factors that influence COVID-19.

Based on preliminary results from 256 respondents, a majority agree that it is ethically acceptable to use HGI in both clinical and public health decision-making but disagree with allowing their employers to use HGI to make decisions about work assignments. In addition, this paper will examine whether HPs’ beliefs about the ethical acceptability of using COVID-19 HGI is influenced by their beliefs about genetic determinism. Understanding stakeholder perspectives and anticipating the ELSI issues will help inform the policies for hospitals and public health departments to evaluate and adopt host genomic technologies in an ethically and socially responsible manner during future infectious disease outbreaks.


Population screening and public health genomics
Genetic testing and screening

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