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Reports that the University of Florida or state officials destroyed or suppressed COVID-19 research data are baseless, says a faculty panel assembled to investigate. The anonymous allegations first came to light in a December ad hoc faculty report detailing broader faculty concerns about the climate for academic freedom at the university, and UF promptly asked three distinguished professors to investigate. Those three professors wrote in their investigative report, released Wednesday, that they “formally interviewed the six ad hoc committee report authors and eight other individuals. The committee also reviewed pertinent documents and materials related to its charge. Upon completing its investigation, the committee found no merit to the allegations regarding the handling of COVID-19 data at UF.”

The person or people who reported alleged COVID-19 research censorship did not identify themselves to the faculty investigators, but the committee concluded that the concern probably related to an October 2020 event during which a Florida Department of Health employee questioned whether the university was using the department’s public health data was consistent with data confidentiality standards. The university says the matter was quickly resolved and collaborative efforts between the department and the university continued.