Biospecimen research is a prominent investigative strategy that aims to provide novel insights into coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), inform clinical trials, and develop effective, life-saving treatments. However, COVID-19 biospecimen research raises accompanying ethical concerns and practical challenges for investigators and participants. In this special article, we discuss the ethical issues that are associated with autonomy, beneficence, and justice in COVID-19 biospecimen research and describe strategies to manage the practical challenges, with an emphasis on protecting the rights and welfare of human research participants during a pandemic response. Appropriate institutional review board oversight and bioethics guidance for COVID-19 biospecimen research must maintain their focus on protecting the rights and welfare of research participants, despite the urgent need for more knowledge about the virus and the threat it poses to communities and nations.
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