Yet another widely-mocked “conspiracy theory” has become reality following a disturbing tweet by the CDC on Wednesday in which they finally admitted that Covid-19 PCR tests have been sent to labs for mapping “genomic sequencing” without consent or compensation.
Genomic sequencing is a process used to analyze the genetic makeup of viruses. In short, if you submitted to a PCR nose swab there is a chance your genetic material was sent to a lab, likely outside of the United States, and used for purposes outside of your control.
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“Its’ [PCR tests] being used by scientists all around the world to track the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 variants,” the CDC said in the video.
The announcement made by the CDC has sparked outrage and serious human DNA privacy questions.
People took to Twitter Wednesday questioning the CDC’s motives, alleging that people’s DNA is being taken without consent.
Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) wrote on Twitter, “Did the @CDCgov get permission from people to take their DNA???”
Many other people seized on the news to allege that “conspiracy theories” surrounding government DNA harvesting are true.
“OMG they’re admitting they stole your DNA using the nose swabs & it’s now being used in labs to study genome sequencing,” @USRising1776 wrote on Twitter. “Yet another “conspiracy theory” that was 1000% true. Class-action lawsuit there for the taking of labs using your genes without your consent or compensation.“
The US government has been harvesting DNA for years. An illuminating article in the Atlantic from 2012 reported that the government is collecting and decoding the DNA of world leaders:
“The U.S. government is surreptitiously collecting the DNA of world leaders, and is reportedly protecting that of Barack Obama. Decoded, these genetic blueprints could provide compromising information. In the not-too-distant future, they may provide something more as well—the basis for the creation of personalized bioweapons that could take down a president and leave no trace.”
French President Emmanuel Macron refused to consent to a PCR test in Russia last week reportedly over fears about handing over his DNA to Russia.
However, ordinary citizens shouldn’t be worried about the government seizing their genetic material, according to professor of Epidemiology and Nutrition at Harvard Albert Ascherio. According to Ascherio, scientists are simply analyzing the sequencing of the Covid-19 virus for variants like Delta and Omicron, and they are not interested in your DNA.
Ascherio says the PCR tests used for genomic sequencing help distinguish common variants of the virus, not human DNA.
However, Ascherio did not deny that the government have seized control of your genetic material without consent or compensation.
“The PCR tests generally do not sequence the full genome, but only selected segments/genes that are more relevant to distinguish the most common variants,” Ascherio told Newsweek. “Full sequencing is however possible and it is done for research purposes to identify the relation between different variants, the appearance of new variants.”
“There is no need to test human DNA, but of course, it will be on the swab so it could be tested, which is probably what people may worry about if they are in [a] conspiracy mood,” Ascherio said.
Law professor and former Chief White House ethics lawyer Richard Painter says he doesn’t see a problem with the genomic sequencing of the virus because human DNA isn’t being collected. If the CDC were to track how variants from each person’s DNA, then there would be privacy issues.
“They take the positive test and they want to look at the strains to see what we have,” Painter told Newsweek. “And it’s just the DNA of the virus. What privacy interest do I have in the DNA of a virus? Anything that they can do to study the DNA of the virus to help solve this pandemic, they should be doing.”
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