NYC Hiding In-School COVID Testing Specimen Contract

What are they hiding in Fulgent Genetics’ Specimen Collection Agreement?

11-23-2020

By Michael Kane

Through the work of multiple attorneys we have obtained many of the important contracts surrounding NYC in-school COVID testing. However we have still not received the Specimen Collection Agreement or any laboratory agreement between Fulgent Genetics and NYC Health + Hospitals Corp (H+H).There is currently a FOIL request for that document filed by a Manhattan-based law firm. H+H responded to that FOIL request by asking for 20 extra days to reply to the request. That was over a month ago.

We maintain that it is impossible to know if teacher and student DNA specimens are protected until this document, and every single contract with laboratories, are made public.

There must be a Specimen Collection Agreement between Fulgent Genetics and H+H. In the NON DISCLOSURE / DATA PROCESSING AGREEMENT between the New York City Department of Education (NYC DOE) and Fulgent Genetics it is stated clearly that Fulgent will be “gathering specimens” for COVID testing. That language appears in “Attachment A: Services Description,” which states:

Fulgent Genetics, Inc. (“Laboratory”) will gather specimens suitable for COVID-19 RT-PCR diagnostic testing (“Diagnostic Tests”) at sites designated by the NYC Department of Education (“NYC DOE”) and perform such Diagnostic Tests for approximately 100,000 NYC DOE students and staff each month.  (emphasis added)

This is significant because, as we have previously reported many times, Fulgent Genetics owns a proprietary library of genetic information. The 100,000 specimens Fulgent is collecting from NYC DOE employees and students each month would clearly be very valuable for that genetic library. The governing document which would reveal whether they are allowed to catalogue those specimens is being kept secret by H+H. This is certainly odd, to say the least, as the contract is a public document and should be readily available upon request.

There are two other contractors involved with NYC in-school COVID testing; SOMOS and BioReference Laboratories. The Specimen Collection Agreement that involves them is included as “Attachment A” in SOMOS NON DISCLOSURE / DATA PROCESSING AGREEMENT.

Why did NYC DOE release SOMOS and BioReference Laboratories Specimen Collection Agreement with H+H, but did not do the same thing for Fulgent Genetics? When our attorney, Michael Sussman, requested the Fulgent Specimen Collection Agreement from NYC DOE they stated in writing that they don’t have it. If the DOE does not have the Specimen Collection Agreement for Fulgent Genetics, why do they have it for SOMOS and BioReference Laboratories?

Why is H+H hiding just this one agreement?

Last month Sophia Chang of THE GOTHAMIST reported NYC DOE completely denied DNA specimens were being collected by any of the labs they work with, and “assured” everyone that all specimens were destroyed after a COVID test result was found. NYC DOE made the same assertion to our attorney in writing, yet they provided no legal documentation to back up this “assurance,” and as previously stated, NYC DOE admits they do not possess the documentation needed to prove such an assurance to be credible: so how can we fully trust that the labs they have contracted with are not cataloguing DNA samples? Maybe DOE got a pinky swear from Fulgent Genetics? (Cross your heart and hope to die kind-a-thing?)

It is insane that New York Teachers For Choice finds ourselves over 3 months in to this investigation to determine whether our DNA is protected during NYC in-school COVID testing and we still cannot answer that question! NYC has allowed 155,763 COVID tests to be conducted on school premises to date without bringing full clarity to this critical question

What is NYC hiding in Fulgent Genetics’ Specimen Collection Agreement?

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