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Plan No Longer

The UK's National Health Service is backing off from its plan to offer healthy people genomic analysis for a fee, the Guardian reports.

In January, NHS outlined its 10-year plan to expand genetic testing to all children with cancer or a rare genetic disorder, as well as for individuals with high cholesterol. Health Secretary Matthew Hancock said later that month that healthy individuals could also pay to have their genomes analyzed if they also consented to taking part in research, calling them "genomic volunteers." Critics dashed the plan as the utility of sequencing healthy people is unclear and as they thought it set up an inequitable, two-tiered system at NHS where those who could pay would receive more benefits than those who could not.

The Guardian says, buried in a report issued Monday, the "genomic volunteer" plan has been eliminated and replaced by one to instead recruit 5 million healthy volunteers who will have their genomes analyzed without charge. This cohort, it adds, is to also to strive to include individuals from underrepresented groups.