COVID-19 testing scientific advice: FOI release

Information request and response under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002

Information requested

Specific scientific advice regarding COVID-19 testing that the Scottish Government received prior to 1 February 2020.
Please disclose the expert health protection and public health advice from the following:

  • The Chief Medical Officer
  • Public Health Scotland
  • The Scottish Health Protection Network
  • The Advisory Committee of Dangerous Pathogens

Following a request for clarification sent on 12 June 2020 you confirmed on 23 June 2020 that your request is for the scientific advice, expert health protection and public health advice regarding COVID-19 testing that the Scottish Government received prior to 1 February 2020 from those individuals and groups listed above.


I enclose a copy of most of the information you have requested. You may wish to note that much of the advice on COVID-19 testing the Scottish Government received from the listed organisations was provided within documents that also covered a range of other, separate issues, which are out of scope of your request. In these instances, we have provided extracts of the documents providing the advice received on COVID-19 testing only.

While our aim is to provide information whenever possible, in this instance we are unable to provide some of the information you have requested because an exemption under section 38(1)(b) of FOISA (personal information) applies. This is because it is personal data of a third party (i.e. names and contact details of individuals), and disclosing it would contravene the data protection principles in Article 5(1) of the General Data Protection Regulation and in section 34(1) of the Data Protection Act 2018.

This exemption is not subject to the ‘public interest test’, so we are not required to consider if the public interest in disclosing the information outweighs the public interest in applying the exemption. 

Some of the information you have requested is available from the New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (NERVTAG) meeting minutes which can be accessed here:

Under section 25(1) of FOISA, we do not have to give you information which is already reasonably accessible to you. If, however, you do not have internet access to obtain this information from the website(s) listed, then please contact me again and I will send you a paper copy. 

The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for in relation to The Scottish Health Protection Network because the Scottish Government has not received the advice requested above from the Scottish Health Protection Network.
This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

About FOI

The Scottish Government is committed to publishing all information released in response to Freedom of Information requests. View all FOI responses at

FOI-202000045001 - Information released


Please quote the FOI reference
Central Enquiry Unit
Phone: 0300 244 4000

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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