This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'Full, accurate and complete disclosure of SARS-COV-2 virus records'.


 
 
Freedom of Information Team  
 
Department of Health and Social Care  
 
39 Victoria Street 
 
London 
 
SW1H 0EU  
www.gov.uk/dhsc 
 
 
Mr Horn 
request-679704-
xxxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.xxx 
 
24 August 2020 
 
Dear Mr Horn, 
 
Freedom of Information Request Reference FOI-1243364 
 
Thank you for your request dated 25 July 2020 in which you asked the Department of Health and 
Social Care (DHSC)
 
Subject: Freedom of Information request - Full, accurate and complete disclosure of SARS-
COV-2 virus records 
Please provide a full, accurate and complete list of records held within your office, and or 
under your authority, describing the isolation of a SARS-COV-2 virus, directly taken from a 
symptomatic patient of COVID-19 where the sample was not first combined with any other 
source of genetic material (not limited but by way of example monkey kidney cells, aka vero 
cells, liver cancer cells) thereby eliminating contamination as a possible alternative source 
of sampling. 
Please note isolation is used in the normally understood meaning of the word – the act of 
separating a thing from another. I am not referring, and hence not requesting, to isolation 
meaning the culture of something else, the performance of an amplification test (eg PCR 
test which only detect mRNA or DNA) or the sequencing of “something”. 
If any records match the above description and are available to the public elsewhere, please 
provide enough information so that I may identify and access each record with certainty 
(i.e. title, author(s), date, journal, and weblink or location where the public may access it). 
I remind you full, accurate and complete disclosure is required. 
 
Your request has been handled under the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). 
 
DHSC does not hold information on the isolation of a SARS-COV-2 virus. 
 
However, outside of the scope of the FOIA, and on a discretionary basis, the following information 
has been advised to us, which may be of interest. Most infectious diseases are caused by viruses, 
bacteria or fungi. Some bacteria or fungi have the capacity to grow on their own in isolation, for 
example in colonies on a petri dish. Viruses are different in that they are what we call “obligate 
pathogens” – that is, they cannot survive or reproduce without infecting a host. An explainer of 
these different types of pathogen (disease causing agents) can be found from BMC Biology here: 
https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5648414/ 
 
For some diseases, it is possible to establish causation between a microorganism and a disease 
by isolating the pathogen from a patient, growing it in pure culture and reintroducing it to a healthy 

organism. These are known as “Koch’s postulates” and were developed in 1884. However, as our 
understanding of disease and different disease-causing agents has advanced, these are no longer 
the method for determining disease causation. It has long been known that viral diseases cannot 
be identified in this way as viruses cannot be grown in ‘pure culture’. When a patient is tested for a 
viral illness, this is normally done by looking for the presence of antigens, or viral genetic code in a 
host with molecular biology techniques. 
 
If you have any queries in relation to the above discretionary information, we suggest that you may 
wish to contact the Government Office for Science (Go-Science). FOI requests may be submitted 
to Go-Science at xxxxxxx@xxxxxxxxxx.xxx.xx. 
If you are not satisfied with the handling of your request, you have the right to appeal by asking for 
an internal review. This should be submitted within two months of the date of this letter and sent to 
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx.xx, or to the address at the top of this letter. 
 
Please remember to quote the reference number above in any future communication. 
 
If you are not content with the outcome of your internal review, you may complain directly to the 
Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO). Generally, the ICO cannot make a decision unless you 
have already appealed our original response and received our internal review decision. You should 
raise your concerns with the ICO within three months of your last meaningful contact with us. 
 
The ICO can be contacted at:  
   
The Information Commissioner's Office  
Wycliffe House 
Water Lane  
Wilmslow 
Cheshire  
SK9 5AF  
 
https://ico.org.uk/concerns/ 
 
Yours sincerely, 
 
Dorothy Crowe 
 
Freedom of Information Officer 
E: xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx@xxxx.xxx.xx