21 March 2022
Complaint in respect of ATISN 16023 – Isolation of COVID virus
I am responding to your email which was received on 9 March 2022, in which you asked us to provide the information that you believe had not been provided earlier. We have interpreted your email as a request for an internal review under the Freedom of Information (FOI) Act 2000 on the basis that you do not believe that we have provided the information you requested. This letter is to inform you of the outcome of the internal review.
In your original request dated 26 January 2022, you requested the following:
- Does ‘SARS-CoV-2’ exist?
- All studies and/ or reports in the possession, custody or control of the Welsh Government (all parties) Government and/ or the Government funded Health Agencies supporting the Covid19 pandemic describing the purification of any “Sars Cov 2 –Covid19 virus” (including “22.214.171.124, “8.1.351”, “P.1” and any other “variant”) (via maceration, filtration and use of an ultracentrifuge: also referred to at times by some people as “isolation”), directly from a sample taken from a diseased human, where the patient sample was not first combined with any other source of genetic material (i.e monkey kidney cells aka Vero cells: fetal bovine serum). Please note that I am not requesting studies/reports where researchers failed to purify the suspected “virus” and instead: cultured an unpurified sample or other unpurified substance, and/or performed an amplification test (i.e a PCR test) on all the RNA from a patient sample or from a cell culture, or on genetic material from any unpurified substance, and/or produced electron microscopy images of unpurified things.
- Has the ‘SARS-CoV-2’ virus been detected, isolated and /or purified
- Does the Welsh Government have in its possession a “registry of laboratories with culture and isolation capacity for testing.” for ‘SARS-CoV-2’
In our response dated 21 February 2022, we confirmed that the information you requested was already in the public domain and provided the links to where this information was available. We also informed you that Welsh Government did not hold a registry of laboratories with culture and isolation capacity for testing SAR-CoV-2.
You contacted us on 23 February expressing your dissatisfaction with our response and indicated that following a FOI response from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Welsh Government had provided different information. You also provided some commentary on this. We explained that the FOI responses from CDC were nearly 2 months before the announcement by the CDC that they had isolated and grown the viral cell culture. Therefore it was reasonable for the CDC to have responded to you as they did in early November 2020. We also suggested that you may wish to address further queries to CDC. We restated that the information that you were seeking was available through the links we had provided, and pointed out that the link you provided in point 6 was not complete.
You have since emailed us on several occasions asking us to respond to your email(s). However, you were not asking for recorded information and so we did not consider these requests to be valid Freedom of Information requests. In your email dated 9 March, you complain that the Welsh Government is deliberately holding back information from you.
I have reviewed our response to your FOI request in accordance with the procedure stated in my previous letter to you (dated 10 March). As this information was already in the public domain, it is exempt from disclosure under Section 21 of the Freedom of Information Act. We are not required to provide information which is already reasonably accessible to you. However, in order to comply with our obligations under Section 16 (to advise and assist), we were able to provide the links to where this information was available. These included:
- A link to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention which had isolated the COVID-19 virus;
- GISAID which promotes the sharing of data from all influenza viruses and the coronavirus causing COVID-19;
- The COVID-19 Genomic UK Consortium (COG-UK) which is a pioneer in the use of rapid whole genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2; and
- The technical briefing documents on novel SARS-CoV-2.
I conclude that we have not withheld the information that you requested, and therefore I do not uphold your complaint.
If you remain dissatisfied with this response you also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner at:
Information Commissioner’s Office
Tel: 01625 545 745
Fax: 01625 524 510
Also, if you think that there has been maladministration in dealing with your request, you have the option to make a complaint to the Public Services Ombudsman for Wales who can be contacted at:
Public Services Ombudsman for Wales
1 Ffordd yr Hen Gae
Telephone: 0845 6010987 (local rate)
Judith Paget CBE
21 February 2022
ATISN 16023 – COVID19 SARS COV 2
Thank you for your enquiry to the Welsh Government received on 28 January 2022 relating to the isolation of the Covid virus.
The information you have requested is available in the public domain.
The Centre for Disease Control and Prevention have successfully managed to isolate the COVID-19 Virus. I have attached the link to the paper below on this matter-https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/lab/grows-virus-cell-culture.html
The GISAID Initiative promotes the rapid sharing of data from all influenza viruses and the coronavirus causing COVID-19. This includes genetic sequence and related clinical and epidemiological data associated with human viruses, and geographical as well as species-specific data associated with avian and other animal viruses, to help researchers understand how viruses evolve and spread during epidemics and pandemics. GISAID - Initiative
COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG-UK) is a pioneer in the use of large-scale, rapid whole-genome sequencing of SARS-CoV-2, the virus causing the COVID-19 pandemic, to understand viral transmission and evolution, and to inform public health responses and vaccine development. This website is regularly updated and provides the information on the variants and informs the difference on genomics and genotyping.COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (cogconsortium.uk)
Finally, technical briefing documents on novel SARS-CoV-2 variants have been published on UK Government website: Investigation of SARS-CoV-2 variants: technical briefings - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)
The Welsh Government does not have in its possession a registry of laboratories with culture and isolation capacity for testing for SARS-CoV-2.
If you are dissatisfied with the Welsh Government’s handling of your request, you can ask for an internal review within 40 working days of the date of this response. Requests for an internal review should be addressed to the Welsh Government’s Freedom of Information Officer at:
Information Rights Unit,
or Email: Freedom.firstname.lastname@example.org
Please remember to quote the ATISN reference number above.
You also have the right to complain to the Information Commissioner. The Information Commissioner can be contacted at:
Information Commissioner’s Office,
However, please note that the Commissioner will not normally investigate a complaint until it has been through our own internal review process.