No, the CDC Did Not Admit That SARS-CoV-2 Has Not Been Isolated

December 11, 2020 in News by RBN Staff


By Jeremy R. Hammond

Electron microscope image of SARS-CoV-2 in cell culture (Image by NIAID, Licenced under CC BY 2.0)


False claims fueling the widespread delusion that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t exist are harming efforts to combat the authoritarian responses to COVID-19.


For months, I have been continually confronted with the belief held by many within my own community of readers that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, has not even been proven to exist.

I would much prefer to spend my time fact-checking the self-proclaimed “fact checkers” that are censoring factual information while hypocritically misinforming the public. But there’s one claim in particular that I’ve been faced with repeatedly that really needs to be put to rest because it is serving only to legitimize the “fact checker” narrative that opponents of authoritarian “lockdown” measures are spreading misinformation.

The specific claim is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has admitted that SARS-CoV-2 has not been isolated—in other words, that it has not been proven to exist.

The “smoking gun” document in which the CDC ostensibly admitted that the virus hasn’t been isolated is titled “CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel”. It is published on the website of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

When claims about this “smoking gun” first circulated, the document at that link was dated as being effective on July 13. As I’m writing this, the date on it is December 1, 2020. I’ll come back to that version, but if you want to see the version from July, it’s still accessible via the Internet Archive here.

The key quote from that document that is being used to support the claim is this, from page 39:

Since no quantified virus isolates of the 2019-nCoV are currently available, assays designed for detection of the 2019-nCoV RNA were tested with . . . .

That’s the supposed “smoking gun” confession by the CDC that SARS-CoV-2 has not been isolated.

Except, as I explained in my newsletter on October 24, the claim that this represents such an admission from the CDC is demonstrably false. (I frequently send quality content exclusively to subscribers, so be sure to sign up here.)

Nevertheless, I’ve continued to get emails or responses on social media from readers insisting that the CDC has admitted that the virus has not been isolated. So, I’m writing this article to be able to direct people to it instead of taking the time to repeatedly explain it all over again.

The first point that needs to be made about this “smoking gun” quote is that it has been taken completely out of context. If we want to understand the intended meaning of the sentence, we must examine the context from which it has been taken.

The context is that this document was written back in January shortly after the initial COVID-19 outbreak in Wuhan, China, and while the CDC was developing its own reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) assay to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2 ribonucleic acid (RNA) for the purpose of diagnosing COVID-19 patients.

The document was originally dated “Effective” as of February 4. You can verify this in this earlier archived version of the document on the FDA’s website. You can also verify that the statement about not having a virus isolate originated in that earlier document.

What the CDC was saying in that document was that it did not have access to an isolate of the virus at the time it was developing its PCR test. The statement about no isolate being available was specifically relevant for that moment in time.

The CDC was not saying that the virus had not been isolated, period. It had been. It just was not available to CDC researchers at the time they were developing the PCR test.

Naturally, since the outbreak in the US did not occur until after the outbreak in China, it was Chinese researchers, rather than those from the CDC, who first isolated the virus.

The first whole genome sequence of SARS-CoV-2 was submitted to GenBank, an international database of all publicly available genetic sequences, on January 5. The genome sequencing of the virus was described in a paper published in the journal Nature on February 3 titled “A new coronavirus associated with human respiratory disease in China”.

It was based upon the published sequence of the entire SARS-CoV-2 genome that the CDC developed its own PCR assay to detect the presence of specific sequences of the virus’s RNA. The CDC had not yet sequenced the whole genome of the virus itself because virus isolates hadn’t been made available by China for CDC scientists to work with and the CDC had not yet isolated the virus yet for itself.

The CDC subsequently did obtain its own virus isolate from a patient in Washington state. The process by which this was done was described in a paper published in the New England Journal of Medicine on March 5 titled “First Case of 2019 Novel Coronavirus in the United States”. In sum, in late January, a clinical specimen from the patient was purified by centrifugation. Then, using its own PCR test, the CDC detected viral RNA from SARS-CoV-2 in the sample.

The CDC also isolated and sequenced the whole genome of the virus for itself, which was described in a paper published on March 11 in the CDC’s journal Emerging Infectious Diseases titled “Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 from Patient with Coronavirus Disease, United States”. After purification, they inserted the substrate into cell cultures and observed cytopathic effects and viral replication. They then sequenced the virus’s whole genome.

As the CDC explains on this page of its website (archived here), it received the clinical specimen on January 20 and immediately replicated a sufficient amount of the virus in cell culture for study. By February 2, CDC researchers had generated sufficient SARS-CoV-2 to distribute isolates to medical and scientific researchers.

Note that this means that by the effective date of the FDA’s approval of the PCR test, the CDC had already obtained a virus isolate, and the statement about not having the virus was already obsolete. Again, the simple intended meaning of the statement is that the CDC hadn’t had the virus in its possession at the time of its PCR test development.

Going back to the CDC document dated February 4, if you look at the lower left corner, you’ll see that it is marked as Revision 1.

The reason that the CDC document is published on the FDA’s website is that the CDC’s “diagnostic test” required the FDA’s approval for clinical use. “Emergency Use Authorization” was granted by the FDA effective February 4.

Now, if you look at the CDC document dated July 13, you’ll see that it is marked as Revision 5.

The CDC explains the reason for the July 13 update on this page of its website (which page is currently showing as having been last updated on October 9). The reason is that the FDA had “approved an amendment on July 13, 2020, to add the Promega Maxwell® RSC 48 as an authorized extraction instrument for use with the CDC 2019-nCoV rRT-PCR Diagnostic Panel.”

The July update had nothing to do with the isolation of the virus. The fact that the verbage of the statement on page 39 remained in the present tense is totally irrelevant. It is the context that dictates the meaning of the sentence, and in its context, it is obvious that the statement was specifically relevant for that moment in time when the CDC was developing the test. In its context, it was obviously not an “admission” by the CDC that the virus had never been isolated.

Anyone claiming that this quote is evidence that the virus has not been isolated has already convinced themselves that the virus has not been proven to exist and is grasping at straws trying to sustain that belief. The only thing that this claim is evidence of, in other words, is the problem of confirmation bias and the willful ignorance that accompanies it. This refusal to acknowledge the existence of SARS-CoV-2 is causing harm and undermining the efforts of the health freedom movement to confront the existential threat of authoritarian governance.

As I mentioned earlier, since I wrote that newsletter in which I explained why the CDC “admission” claim is false, the CDC document has since been updated once again. Currently showing is Revision 6, dated December 1 (archived here). If you scroll down to what is now page 42, you can see that the supposed “smoking gun” statement now also been updated to read (emphasis added):

Since no quantified virus isolates of the 2019-nCoV were available for CDC use at the time the test was developed and this study conducted . . . .

That intended meaning was always self-evident from the context, but it’s reasonable to assume that it was updated to explicitly state the obvious because of the harmful misinformation being spread based on the original wording.

Another related claim is that the March 11 paper in which CDC researchers described sequencing the whole genome of SARS-CoV-2 showed that the virus is incapable of infecting human cells. But that, too, is false—another instance of harmful misinformation serving only to undermine efforts to effectively combat the overwhelming propaganda of the mainstream discourse that is serving to manufacture consent for authoritarian political agendas.

In that study, the CDC researchers “examined the capacity of SARS-CoV-2 to infect and replicate in several common primate and human cell lines, including human adenocarcinoma cells (A549) human liver cells (HUH7.0), and human embryonic kidney cells (HEK-293T), in addition to Vero E6 and Vero CCL81 cells” and “big brown bat kidney cell line (EFK3B)”.

Researchers use cell cultures to detect the presence of infectious viruses by observing for cytopathic effects and viral replication. The CDC researchers’ purpose was to determine which of the cell lines commonly used for this purpose would be most suitable for use with SARS-CoV-2.

They did find that the human cell lines they tried were not infected. On the other hand, the virus did replicate in the Vero cell lines, which are derived from the kidney of an African green monkey.

This does not mean that SARS-CoV-2 is incapable of infecting humans. That conclusion is a non sequitur fallacy. Just because the virus did not infect those specific human cell lines does not mean that it does not infect other types of human cells. It is well established that SARS-CoV-2 infects human cells that express what is known as the angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) receptor. This includes cells lining the lungs and respiratory tract.

It was not the CDC researchers’ purpose to determine whether the virus could infect human cells. That it could do so had already been demonstrated. They had obtained their own virus isolate from an infected human. The claim that this paper constitutes an admission that SARS-CoV-2 does not infect humans is delusional.

Tellingly, I have seen individuals expressing both beliefs at once: the virus has not been shown to exist and the existent virus is not infectious to humans. This is the type of cognitive dissonance necessary to maintain the belief that there is no virus called SARS-CoV-2 infecting and causing disease in humans.

All too frequently, when I’ve tried to inform such individuals of the errors in their reasoning, they’ve responded by expressing vitriol toward me for not sharing their delusion. For example, one recipient of my October newsletter has emailed repeatedly ever since to insist that the CDC “did admit” that the virus hasn’t been isolated (November 22), that I “did not address anything and did not prove” that the claim is false (November 24), that I “seem to enjoy word arguments and skirting real things” by insisting that the claim is false (November 26), that I should “Just admit” that I “made a mistake” by insisting that the claim is false (December 4), and that I “did not demonstrate anything” in my October newsletter detailing why the claim is false (December 6). The same day this guy wrote me to meaninglessly assert I had not demonstrated anything, he unsubscribed from my newsletter, providing as a reason that I am “controlled opposition” whom he can “no longer trust”.

That is the level of self-delusion we are dealing with. The refusal to reason is disturbing. My patience with these types of people plaguing me with their harmful idiocy has reached its limit. I have no need or desire for people like that in my community of readers, so if this article alienates people like him and prompts them to unsubscribe from my newsletters, good riddance.

We all have important work to be doing to combat the existential authoritarianism, and all this distracting nonsense has been hindering my own labors due to the unfortunate need to address it. Fortunately, most of my subscribers are sensible individuals, and I strongly urge my reader community to help me combat this misinformation for the sake of the serious harm that it is causing to the health freedom movement.

Of course, it’s not only researchers from China and the CDC who have isolated the virus. It has been isolated and its whole genome sequenced by scientists all over the world, and many studies have been published about this research in the peer-reviewed medical literature. As I’m writing this, nearly 30,000 whole genome sequences of SARS-CoV-2 have been submitted to GenBank (archived here). Scientists use this data, among other purposes, for tracking the evolution of the virus as it moves around the globe passaging through the human population and undergoes various mutations (archived here).

The widespread misuse of PCR tests to diagnose COVID-19 is a whole other issue. It is true that PCR tests used in clinical settings detect only RNA fragments and that positive tests are being wrongly equated as “COVID-19 cases” even though they don’t prove the presence of infection much less disease.

I detailed how authoritarian lockdown measures are being justified on the basis of this institutionalized scientific fraud in my recent article “Facebook ‘Fact Check’ Lies about PCR Tests and COVID-19 ‘Cases’”.

I encourage you to read and share it. It is important to fight authoritarian policies that cause harm and violate fundamental human rights. If we are to succeed in our efforts, we must not legitimize claims of spreading “misinformation” but instead share the scientifically uncontroversial facts that the government and thought-controlling media do not wish us to know.

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About Jeremy R. Hammond

About Jeremy R. Hammond

I am an independent journalist, political analyst, publisher and editor of Foreign Policy Journal, book author, and writing coach.

My writings empower readers with the knowledge they need to see through state propaganda intended to manufacture their consent for criminal government policies.

By recognizing when we are being lied to and why, we can fight effectively for liberty, peace, and justice, in order to create a better world for ourselves, our children, and future generations of humanity.

Please join my growing community of readers!