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What About Insurance?

More and more genetic tests are being developed to determine people's risk for disease, but as NPR's Michelle Andrews reports at the Shots blog, don't expect insurance companies to pay for all of the tests. Insurers, she says, typically only cover a test if there is strong evidence that there's a health benefit.

"You don't test for testing's sake," Susan Pisano, a spokesperson for the trade group America's Health Insurance Plans, tells Andrews.

For instance under the American Affordable Care Act, BRCA gene testing must be covered along with genetic counseling, free of charge, for women with family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

However, testing the APOE gene, which is linked to Alzheimer's disease, is usually not covered. David Finley, the national medical officer for Cigna, says that "[i]t's not enough for a test to be accurate and scientifically reliable. It has to benefit the patient." And the APOE test doesn't meet that standard, he adds.

The Scan

Panel Votes for COVID-19 Pill

A US Food and Drug Administration panel has voted to support the emergency use authorization of an antiviral pill for COVID-19 from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics, CNN says.

But Not Harm

New Scientist reports that UK bioethicists say that though gene editing may improve food production, it should not harm livestock welfare.

Effectiveness Drop Anticipated

Moderna's Stéphane Bancel predicts that that current SARS-CoV-2 vaccines may be less effective against the Omicron variant, the Financial Times reports.

Cell Studies of Human Chromatin Accessibility, SARS-CoV-2 Variants, Cell Signaling Networks

In Cell this week: chromatin accessibility maps of adult human tissues, modeling to track SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern, and more.