Fact check: This CDC document does not say that that SARS-CoV-2 doesn’t exist

Social media users have claimed that a document from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) admits that the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the name for the novel coronavirus, does not exist. While the document is authentic, the scientific process described within it has been misrepresented.

Reuters Fact Check. REUTERS

The claim appears in a video that has been viewed more than 77,000 times on YouTube entitled THE MOST IMPORTANT Video on Earth Right Now (here) .

In the video, the narrator references a document (here) from the CDC that provides information about the PCR test used to detect SARS CoV-2, which causes the potentially deadly disease, COVID-19.

On page 39, the document outlines how the “analytical sensitivity” of the PCR assays were determined.

“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 (N gene; GenBank accession: MN908947.2)”, it reads.

According to the video, this paragraph is evidence that the virus does not exist and that the pandemic is a hoax.

“They’ve designed tests to detect something that hasn’t been isolated and isn’t available to test”, the narrator alleges.

“What the CDC organisation is admitting here is that it has no measurable amount of the ‘convid’ [sic] that every psychopathic authoritarian has used as justification to shut down the world’s economy.

“They are saying its unavailable. They are saying they don’t have it. They can’t prove its existence. They also use the word ‘isolates’, which means no isolated virus is available”.

Dr Thushan de Silva, from the University of Sheffield’s Department of Infection, Immunity and Cardiovascular Disease, told Reuters that this was not correct.

De Silva said that the document is describing what was used to determine the lowest amount of viral genetic material the RT-PCR assay could detect.

“They describe a very common process during assay set up, where the limit of detection of the RT-PCR assay was determined”, he said.

In this case, the CDC have used ‘transcribed’ RNA as the positive control - 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 said.

According to de Silva, one reason for using 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.

De Silva maintains that using transcribed RNA rather than RNA extracted from quantified viral stocks is no reason to question the existence of SARS-CoV-2.

“There are now hundreds of stocks of cultured SARS-CoV-2 in laboratories around the world”, he said.


False. While the document is authentic, the scientific process described within it has been misrepresented.

This article was produced by the Reuters Fact Check team. Read more about our work to fact-check social media posts (here) .