FACT CHECK: Did The CDC Admit In This Document That ‘There Is No COVID-19’?

Brad Sylvester | Fact Check Editor

An image shared on Facebook claims the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admitted in a specific document that “there is no COVID-19.”

Verdict: False

The CDC did not admit in the document that “there is no Covid-19.” The claim stems from a misinterpretation of the document explaining the CDC’s process involving transcribed RNA in its diagnostic COVID-19 test.

Fact Check:

The image being shared appears to show an article published in the U.K.-based monthly newspaper The Light, which describes itself as a “truthpaper.” (RELATED: Did The CDC Release Data Showing Face Masks Are ‘Collecting’ COVID-19?)

The Light’s article alleges that the CDC admitted in a July document – “CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel” – that the novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 does not exist. As evidence of its claim, the article points to a sentence on page 39 of the CDC document, which states, “Since no quantified virus isolates of the 2019-nCoV are currently available, assays designed for detection of the 2019-nCoV RNA were tested with characterized stocks of in vitro transcribed full length RNA.”

The CDC document has been misinterpreted. The section referenced in The Light’s article is “describing what was used to determine the lowest amount of viral genetic material the RT-PCR assay could detect” in the CDC’s diagnostic COVID-19 test, Dr. Thushan de Silva, a senior clinical lecturer in infectious diseases at the University of Sheffield, said in an email to the Daily Caller News Foundation. De Silva explained that the CDC “used ‘transcribed’ RNA as the positive control to do this – which means they used synthetically produced genetic material identical to that carried by the virus.”

“To calculate the limit of detection of an RT-PCR assay, you need to have a known quantity of virus to extract genetic material (RNA) from, or alternatively a known quantity of RNA identical to that carried by the virus,” de Silva told the DCNF in an email. “The likely reason that they used transcribed RNA would have been that at the time of set up, not many standardised and quantified viral stocks would have been available to extract viral RNA from.”

“CDC developed its diagnostic test for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, before live virus or any samples from confirmed COVID-19 patients were available for CDC use,” Jasmine Reed, a CDC public affairs specialist, clarified in an email to the DCNF. “CDC uses a test that was developed from genomic sequencing information, without using live virus or samples from patients. By January 18, 2020, CDC was using this test on samples from people with suspected cases of COVID-19.”

She also noted that “the FDA Instructions for Use reflect that the test was developed based on genomic sequencing information that was available before the CDC acquired live virus.” (RELATED: MSNBC’s Joy Reid Claims Moderna And Pfizer ‘Were Not Involved In Operation Warp Speed’)

A timeline of “SARS-CoV-2 Viral Culturing at CDC” is available on the CDC’s website. The CDC used a “respiratory sample from the first confirmed COVID-19 case in the United States to culture (or grow) the SARS-CoV-2 virus on January 22, 2020” and now “routinely grows SARS-CoV-2 from patient samples after they have been confirmed to be infected with SARS-CoV-2” for uses including “developing additional SARS-CoV-2 tests, testing medicines to treat or prevent infections with the virus that causes COVID-19s, and developing vaccines,” according to Reed.

“Using transcribed RNA rather than RNA extracted from quantified viral stocks is no reason to question the existence of SARS-CoV-2,” de Silva said. “There are now hundreds of stocks of cultured SARS-CoV-2 in laboratories around the world.”

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Brad Sylvester

Fact Check Editor
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