Spain’s health ministry did not tell activists that the novel coronavirus is yet to be isolated, despite an article claiming otherwise online.
The English-language piece was published on Oct. 1 on a blogsite called Plandemic.Co, which says it is “pushing back against the official narrative to give critical thinkers reflection time” (here).
In the article itself, Plandemic.Co claims the Spanish health ministry “admitted” on Sept. 30 that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19 disease, “has never been isolated to their knowledge”, and that the ministry was “unable to provide details of any laboratories where the process of isolation and cultivation [of coronavirus] has been carried out”.
Spain’s health ministry told Reuters these claims were not accurate.
A spokesperson said via email: “SARS-CoV-2 has been isolated and cultivated, for example at the Centro Nacional de Microbiología-Instituto de Salud Carlos III (ISCIII).
“The Ministry of Science and Innovation has isolated virus samples in this centre, which belongs to the ISCIII.”
According to Plandemic.Co, the false claim was originally made by El Diestro, a Spanish-language website that brands itself the “leading newspaper of the Spanish right”.
El Diestro (here) reported on Sept. 30 that the health ministry had made the comments in a response to a public information request from Asociación Liberum (in English: Liberum Association), a group established “with the purpose of restoring the rights and freedoms that have been usurped in the course of the COVID-19 pandemic” (twitter.com/Aso_Liberum), and Biólogos por La Verdad (in English: Biologists for Truth), a group vowing “to fight for a change in the biological paradigm” (twitter.com/BiologosV).
The response (published, here), directs readers to relevant ministry links for more information.
It also adds: “The Ministry of Health does not have a SARS-CoV-2 culture for testing, and it does not have a registry of laboratories with culture and isolation capacity for testing.”
The document explains the ministry’s role in the pandemic to curate its webpages of information “which are updated according to epidemiological need, to enable decision-making in relation to the management of the pandemic, and the dissemination of information to third parties that can use it in their specific environments.
“In this sense, the most conceptual and definitional issues [such as isolating virus cultures] remain more in academic and teaching environments, with the Ministry of Health playing a more secondary role and not acting on these issues in its power.”
Reuters has previously addressed misinformation that SARS-CoV-2 has never been isolated (here).
Missing context. Comments from Spain’s health ministry have been misrepresented. The ministry did not say SARS-CoV-2 was yet to be isolated; rather, it said the ministry itself had not isolated the virus. However, many other scientists have done so, including those linked to the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation.
This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our fact-checking work here .
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.