This is an HTML version of an attachment to the Freedom of Information request 'FOI regarding the isolation of SARS COV-2'.

Department Reference: FOI 3279 
Matej Bulic 
By email: 
Dear Matej Bulic 
I refer to your request of 28 October 2021 to the Department of Health (the 
department) seeking access under the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) (the FOI 
Act) to documents related to COVID-19. Your request is in the following terms: 
1.  Documentation proving isolation of the SARS-COV-2, Delta strain which is 
confirmed by means of a purified viral sample being imaged with an electron 
2.  Documentation where the isolated SARSCOV2 Delta virus sample mentioned in 
point (1) is exposed to healthy humans or animals and shown to cause the disease 

Information about COVID-19 
SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, is real. Multiple scientific studies 
across the world demonstrate that highly reputable laboratory medicine experts 
have isolated and sequenced the virus that causes COVID-19, demonstrating that the 
virus exists, that it exists in variant forms, that it is different from the influenza virus, 
and that it causes a disease that has resulted in over 5 million deaths worldwide in 
just over 22 months.  
While the department is not the custodian of the scientific studies establishing the 
existence of SARS-CoV-2, this research has informed the Australian Government’s 
response to the pandemic. You can find those scientific studies in the public domain. 
The department is a government agency and does not conduct scientific studies or 
laboratory testing for the SARS-CoV-2 in a laboratory. Diagnostic assays using 
reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) are conducted by testing 
laboratories throughout Australia. For more information, please see the Public 
Health Laboratory Network guidance on laboratory testing for SARS-CoV-2, which 

is available online:
In Australia, scientists at the Victorian Infectious Diseases Reference Laboratory at 
The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity were the first to isolate 
SARS-CoV-2 outside of China, winning the 2020 MJA/MDA National Prize for 
Excellence in Medical Research. This critical information was immediately shared 
with local and overseas reference laboratories and major North American and 
European virus culture collections. These peer-reviewed, evidence-based 
publications provide scientific evidence for the existence of this deadly virus. 
All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, change over time as part of their natural 
evolution. A change may or may not give the virus a biological advantage. Existing 
and emerging variants are constantly monitored using genomic surveillance to 
detect those that pose or may pose an increased risk to human health.  
In Australia, whole genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 genome is the preferred 
way to determine the variant and mutation patterns of the virus, e.g. Alpha, Delta, 
and Kappa variants. Some RT-PCR tests have been designed to detect specific  
SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern. These tests can only identify the specific variants 
they have been designed for. 
Attached to this email is an article published in the Daily Telegraph on  
13 August 2021 that may be of interest to you. 
FOI decision 
I am authorised under subsection 23(1) of the FOI Act to make decisions in relation 
to Freedom of Information requests. I am writing to notify you of my decision in 
response to your request.  
The FOI Act provides a mechanism for individuals to request access to documents 
held by relevant entities. It is not a mechanism for asking questions or seeking 
information that the entity does not hold in documents.  
Appropriate steps have been taken to find documents you have requested including 
consultation with relevant departmental officers and searches of departmental file 
management systems.  
I am satisfied, based on the consultation undertaken and the searches conducted, 
that the department, including the Therapeutic Goods Administration, does not hold 
any documents referred to in your request. This research and information is 
available in the public domain as described above. 
As a consequence, relying on section 24A of the FOI Act, I cannot provide access to 
the documents you requested. 

FOI review rights 
If you are dissatisfied with my decision, you may apply for a review. 
Internal review 
Under section 54 of the FOI Act, you may apply for internal review of this decision.  
In accordance with section 54B of the FOI Act, an application for internal review 
must be made in writing within 30 days after the day you are notified of this 
decision (or such further period as the department allows). To assist in the internal 
review process, please provide reasons you consider the review of my decision is 
The internal review will be carried out by another officer of this department within 
30 days of receipt of your application. 
An application for an internal review should be addressed to: 
Mail:   FOI Unit (MDP 516) 
Department of Health  
GPO Box 9848 
Information Commissioner review 
Under section 54L of the FOI Act, you may apply to the Office of the Australian 
Information Commissioner (OAIC) for review of my decision by the Information 
Commissioner (IC).  
In accordance with subsection 54S(1) of the FOI Act, an IC review application in 
relation to a decision covered by subsection 54L(2) (access refusal decisions) must be 
made in writing within 60 days after the day you are notified of this decision (if you 
do not request an internal review). 
More information about IC review is available on the OAIC website at: 
The OAIC can be contacted by: 
Phone:  1300 363 992 
If you are dissatisfied with action taken by the department, you may also make a 

Complaint to the department 
Complaints to the department are covered by the department’s privacy policy. A 
form for lodging a complaint directly to the department is available on the 
department’s website:  
Complaint to the IC 
Information about making a complaint to the IC about action taken by the 
department is available on the OAIC website:
Relevant provisions of the FOI Act 
The FOI Act, including the provisions referred to in this letter, can be accessed from 
the Federal Register of Legislation website:  
If you require clarification of any of the matters discussed in this letter you should 
contact the department’s Freedom of Information Unit on (02) 6289 1666 or at  
Yours sincerely 
Megan Lancaster  
Assistant Secretary  
Public Health and Surveillance Branch 
23 November 2021