Legislative protections for DNA and genetic material
The request was successful.
Dear Chris Hipkins,
I write as a New Zealand citizen.
Are there any current legislative protections in place, or being considered, for the protection and security of genetic material collected with respect to the government's response to COVID-19? If so, can you please supply any related legislation information and/or related correspondence discussing such matters.
This should include all genetic material, e.g. DNA collected via nasal swab tests used to determine positive/negative cases, blood samples used in serology tests and any other collection measure used under direction from the government's COVID-19 response programme and held by the relevant Ministry or any contracted agency/vendor/external provider employed for such purposes.
From: C Hipkins (MIN)
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COVID-19 Response, Minister of Education, Minister for the Public Sector
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Office of Hon Chris Hipkins
Minister for COVID-19 Response | Minister of Education | Minister for the
Public Sector | Leader of the House | MP for Remutaka
From: Tiffany Vail
Kia ora Maxwell
Thank you for your email received on 28 October 2021 in which you submitted a request under the Official Information Act 1982 (the Act) to Hon Chris Hipkins, Minister for COVID-19 Response. You have requested:
“Are there any current legislative protections in place, or being considered, for the protection and security of genetic material collected with respect to the government's response to COVID-19? If so, can you please supply any related legislation information and/or related correspondence discussing such matters.
This should include all genetic material, e.g. DNA collected via nasal swab tests used to determine positive/negative cases, blood samples used in serology tests and any other collection measure used under direction from the government's COVID-19 response programme and held by the relevant Ministry or any contracted agency/vendor/external provider employed for such purposes.”
The Human Tissue Act 2008, which includes regulation of collection of human cells and blood, and associated standards, is the primary legislation in this area. You can read more about the Act here: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/regu...
The Ministry of Health's website has information on how COVID-19 testing works, which may be of interest to you: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise... Viral testing for COVID-19 involves searching for the virus’ genes in a sample taken from the person being tested, usually a swab from the nose or throat. The sample is then sent to the laboratory and tested to see if it contains any genes from the SARS-CoV-2 virus – the virus that causes COVID-19. Laboratories do not sequence DNA from samples, other than that of the virus in a positive case.
You may also wish to refer to ESR Privacy Statement for COVID-19 Testing and Reporting, which sets out how your personal and health information is collected, used, disclosed and protected by ESR (acting as agent on behalf of the Ministry of Health) when you undergo a COVID-19 test. https://esr2.cwp.govt.nz/our-expertise/c...
The Ministry of Health’s website also has useful resources on how personal information is collected and managed as part of the COVID-19 response: https://www.health.govt.nz/our-work/dise...
Under section 28(3) of the Act, you have the right to ask the Ombudsman to review any decisions made under this request. The Ombudsman may be contacted by email at: [email address] or by calling 0800 802 602.
Tiffany Vail | Private Secretary, Health
Office of Hon Chris Hipkins
Minister for COVID-19 Response