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Cotton swab in mouth

Genomics England’s plans to move into paid-for genome sequencing of healthy people has done more than raise eyebrows in the scientific world. Last week a parade of the genomics great and good – who had clearly not been informed of the plans announced last week by Matt Hancock, the health secretary – wrote to the Times saying this would “create two-tier access to services, where people who can pay are able to access services that are denied to those who cannot”.

Others have pointed out that the plans will create extra pressure on GPs, who will have to deal with a flood of “worried well” patients coming to them with DNA test results.

The idea is that new “genomics volunteers” will pay for the sequencing and for its interpretation, while agreeing to donate the results in anonymous form to the Genomics England databank. The fact that the volunteers are being asked to pay for test results, delivered by a healthcare provider rather than a private genetic-testing company, must give them the impression that there are personal health benefits to...