EXPLAINER - Why would world leaders refuse to give Putin DNA?
Knowing one's intimate details of DNA could prove to be a powerful tool if knowledge is power. This might explain why world leaders who traveled to Moscow recently for diplomatic talks appeared to be reluctant to submit to Russian-administered Coronavirus tests.
This could be an example of imagination getting ahead of science.
German Chancellor Olaf Scholz rejected Russia's request to conduct a PCR testing -- while French officials claimed President Emmanuel Macron refused to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin. This led to speculation that he didn’t want the Russian swab.
Both leaders are not known to be opposed to COVID-19 countermeasures. This led to speculation that they were trying keep Russia's genetic material from their hands.
Global powers are constantly looking for new ways to win in the highly competitive worlds of international espionage and national security. Scientists warn that this day is still far away.
HAVE THE LEADERS ACTUALLY ACCUSED RUSSIA OF TRYING TO USE THEIR DNA FOR NEFARIOUS MEANS?
Well, no. However, that hasn’t stopped the wild speculation.
French officials refused to answer questions and denied any suggestion that the Russians wanted to secretly obtain Macron's DNA.
French officials said that Russia's demands for Macron to meet Putin were "not acceptable" in order to be compatible with Macron's plans. The absurdly long marble table shared by Macron and Scholz with the Russian president, which has spawned many memes.
Steffen Hebestreit, spokesperson for the German government, said that he was reluctant to comment on the Macron controversy. He told Berliner reporters that Scholz had followed the same procedure Germany uses for foreign dignitaries. They can submit their own DNA tests, and if necessary, a doctor can accompany them onboard the plane to oversee the testing.
The Russian side saw things differently and stated that if there was a test, it should be a Russian one. Hebestreit said that the chancellor decided that he would not be available to do that. He added that he didn't want to interpret that too much.
WHY WOULD FRANCE & GERMANY MISTRUST RUSSIA?
Both countries are NATO members, which includes the United States of America and Britain. NATO was created by Western allies during the Cold War as a buffer against the Soviet Union.
Russia expressed concern about NATO using Ukraine to undermine Russia, and has cited this as the reason for its military buildup at Ukraine's borders.
WHAT CAN YOU LEARN FROM DNA? DNA is found in every cell of the body. It can be extracted using multiple methods, such as a nasal swab. However, a coronavirus test kit swab seeks different genetic material: RNA.
Kenny Beckman directs the University of Minnesota Genomics Center. "Those samples contain tons of human DNA." You could take the sample and extract the DNA to perform any kind of workup on that person.
Your DNA contains the instructions you need to live and thrive. Each person has a unique DNA. It can be used for finding out where your ancestors may have been, whether there are any unknown relatives, and whether you have genetic disorders or abnormalities that could lead to diseases or other medical conditions.
DNA can be used in forensic science to connect people to evidence or to eliminate suspects from a crime.
WHAT CAN DNA DO TO IMPACT WORLD LEADERS
Howard McLeod is a genetics expert who directs precision medicine at Florida's Geriatric Oncology Consortium. "DNA can be used to identify disease risk. "You could examine your ancestry to see if any elements could be exploited."
He said that the idea of studying DNA to learn more about someone, such as a world leader, is "a lot more frightening than it actually is."
Beckman stated that it was "farfetched to believe" that the collected information could prove politically harmful.
Beckman asked, "What do you plan to do if Macron has slightly higher blood pressure risk?" "But then, I don't spend too much time trying to devise ways to weaponize the genetic information of someone."
George Annas is a bioethicist and has written extensively on the importance of genetic privacy. He wants to be clear about one thing: DNA is not magic. While it will give you some information about how to assassinate someone, it is not going to reveal everything.
Even if you don't have the ability to create a bioweapon that is targeted at specific targets, the power to suggest can be enough for world leaders to be compromised. Russia has been known as using kompromat, which involves blackmailing someone with threats to reveal embarrassing information.
WHY CAN'T PUTIN & HIS GUESTS JUST USE MASKS
Putin has mostly avoided wearing masks during the pandemic, but is very vigilant about COVID-19. He was a 69-year old man who appeared to be working remotely.
CAN THE UNITED STATES INSIST ON TESTING WORLD POWERFUL PERSONS?
According to an official, dignitaries visiting President Joe Biden must be tested. While the White House offers testing options, most leaders make arrangements for their own testing, which is acceptable with the White House.
Samples are taken from Biden's home and abroad and processed only by the White House Medical Unit.
According to some reports, the U.S. government attempted to collect DNA from foreign leaders. Wikileaks has revealed that Obama-era diplomatic cables instruct U.S. diplomats to gather "fingerprints and facial images, DNA and iris scans," from selected African officials. This includes religious and business leaders.
I AM A NORMAL PERSON THAT GETS COVID TESTS VERY Often. WHAT CAN I DO?
This should not deter you to test.
Federal law in the United States prohibits medical professionals and laboratories from using patient specimens for purposes other than those of the original test. People can give their consent for their results to be made available for research in certain circumstances, such as 23andMe and health and ancestry service. These services can be dangerous, even though they comply with U.S. laws. Data could still end up in another country's hands.
Annas states that privacy is fundamental, regardless of who you are. "Even presidents have a right to medical privacy. They should not have their information made public without their consent."
So, do WORLD LEADERS HAVE ANYTHING TO BE CONFUSED ABOUT?
Consensus is that the worst thing a bad actor can do with DNA is to generate scandal. Not a presidential clone.
You never know where your DNA could end up. An anonymous group called the Earnest Project claimed that they had obtained DNA from several world leaders attending the Davos summit. They claimed they would auction the samples to make a statement about surveillance capitalism. However, the auction was delayed by legal issues and never rescheduled. The group didn't respond to a request to comment that was made via its website.