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No, COVID-19 tests aren’t being used to collect human DNA

A Feb. 16 tweet from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention about “genomic sequencing analysis” of COVID-19 tests was misconstrued by vaccine deniers and conspiracy theorists. Let’s take a look at the facts.

A tweet from the CDC about PCR tests being used for genomic sequencing analysis has been reposted to Instagram with misleading, conspiratorial commentary that falsely implies that the data collection is part of a "nefarious" plan to "collect our DNA." The News Literacy Project has added a label that says "FALSE."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) did not say that human DNA was being collected through COVID-19 tests.
In a tweet on Feb. 16, the CDC said that “there’s a 10% chance” that swabs used in COVID-19 PCR tests end up “in a lab for genomic sequencing analysis” — a process used to analyze the genetic makeup of viruses and track the emergence of variants.
In a subsequent tweet the CDC clarified that the sequencing and analysis work is on the genome of the virus that causes COVID-19, not on human DNA.

NewsLit takeaway

Conspiratorial rumors about the government and private companies using COVID-19 tests to build collections of human DNA have circulated since at least late 2020. These previous viral falsehoods — along with people’s tendency to interpret information in ways that maintain rather than challenge their existing ideas and beliefs — likely led some vaccine deniers and others to see “proof” of these baseless suspicions in the wording of the CDC’s Feb. 16 tweet.

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