Public Accountability Unit
T 020 8327 6920
133-155 Waterloo Road
London SE1 8UG
Our ref: 24/07/hf/872
20 August 2020
Dear Andrew Johnson, Re: Documents held showing SARS-COV2 has been isolated and Causes
Thank you for your email dated 24 July 2020. In accordance with Section 1(1)(a) of
the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (the Act), I can confirm that Public Health
England (PHE) does not hold the information you have specified. Your Request
All records in the possession, custody or control of Public Health England
describing the isolation of a SARS-COV-2 virus, directly from a sample taken
from a diseased patient, where the patient sample was not first combined with
any other source of genetic material (i.e. monkey kidney cells aka vero cells;
liver cancer cells).
Please note that I am using "isolation" in the every-day sense of the word: the
act of separating a thing(s) from everything else. I am not requesting records
where "isolation of SARS-COV-2" refers *instead* to:
• the culturing of something, or
• the performance of an amplification test (i.e. a PCR test), or • the sequencing
Please also note that my request is not limited to records that were authored
by the PHE or that pertain to work done by the PHE. My request includes any
sort of record, for example (but not limited to) any published peer-reviewed
study that the PHE has downloaded or printed.
Please provide enough information about each record so that I may identify
and access each record with certainty (i.e. title, author(s), date, journal, where
the public may access it).”
PHE can confirm it does not hold information in the way suggested by your request.
Under section 16 of the Act, public authorities have a duty to provide advice and
assistance. I have signposted you to the below links which contain information on
taking COVID-19 swabs.
Additionally, the below publication contains some information on virus isolation: https://www.eurosurveillance.org/content/10.2807/1560-
If you have any queries regarding the information that has been supplied to you,
please refer your query to in writing in the first instance. If you remain dissatisfied
and would like to request an internal review, then please contact us at the address
above or by emailing email@example.com.
Please note that you have the right to an independent review by the Information
Commissioner’s Office if a complaint cannot be resolved through the PHE
complaints procedure. The Information Commissioner’s Office can be contacted by
writing to Information Commissioner’s Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow,
Cheshire, SK9 5AF.