Questions concerning COVID-19 testing efficiency: FOI release

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

Information requested

Of the positive cases of COVID-19 that have been reported by the Scottish Government for which the real time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction (rRT-PCR) COVID-19 test was used how many results used an isolated virus as the reference standard i.e. how many were genuine positive cases?


The Scottish Government does not have the information you have asked for as this information is not held by the Scottish Government.

This is a formal notice under section 17(1) of FOISA that the Scottish Government does not have the information you have requested.

Although we do not hold the information you have requested it may interest you to know that the tests being used to detect the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Scottish laboratories are real-time RT-PCR (Reverse Transcription Polymerase Chain Reaction) assays which are the gold standard for respiratory viruses. These assays have been designed to target a section of the SARS-COV-2 genetic material which is specific to the virus. There are a variety of RT-PCR assays currently in use in Scotland to confirm the presence of the virus SARS CoV-2, all of which are regulated and approved by the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), and thereafter validated for use by the Scottish laboratory performing the test.

Public Health Scotland have produced COVID-19 guidance for sampling and laboratory investigations which can be found here: HPS Website - COVID-19 - guidance for sampling and laboratory investigations (


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

The Scottish Government
St Andrews House
Regent Road

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