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A 'Flawed' Plan

The UK's Border Agency is beginning a six-month pilot project to use DNA testing to determine the nationalities of people seeking asylum, reports the Observer. In conjunction with language analysis, interviews, and other techniques, the agency hopes to limit bogus claims in which people from one country are saying they are from another — particularly focusing on people claiming to be from Somalia — to increase their chances of receiving asylum. According to ScienceInsider, researchers have called this program "horrifying," "naïve," and "flawed" and that the agency is "[confusing] ancestry or ethnicity with nationality." Imperial College London's David Balding adds that "genes don't respect national borders, as many legitimate citizens are migrants or direct descendants of migrants, and many national borders split ethnic groups."

Genetic Future's Daniel MacArthur also weighs in:

I'm skeptical that we have sufficient data on patterns of genetic variation within Africa to be able to use it to guide accurate decisions; until the Border Agency can demonstrate publicly that its models for geographical ancestry prediction is robust it would be inhumane to use them to decide on a refugee's fate.

ScienceInsider also has a list of key questions, such as which markers are being tested — the answer is that it's not known — here.

The Scan

Alzheimer's Risk Gene Among Women

CNN reports that researchers have found that variants in MGMT contribute to Alzheimer's disease risk among women but not men.

Still Hanging Around

The Guardian writes that persistent pockets of SARS-CoV-2 in the body could contribute to long COVID.

Through a Little Spit

Enteric viruses like norovirus may also be transmitted through saliva, not just the fecal-oral route, according to New Scientist.

Nature Papers Present Method to Detect Full Transcriptome, Viruses Infecting Asgard Archaea, More

In Nature this week: VASA-seq approach to detect full transcriptome, analysis of viruses infecting Asgard archaea, and more.