ESR SARS-COV-2 Experiments Data

ESR is a New Zealand Crown Research Institute that specialises in microbiology. This publicly funded private company has claimed to have isolated SARS-COV-2 and generated SARS-COV-2 genomes. ESR has already admitted that they have not purified SARS-COV-2 directly from human samples. So I set out to scrutinise their claims through official information act requests.

With the help of Christine Massey, we composed an Official Information Act request asking for the data and processes related to their cell culture experiments and the genetic sequencing experiments. ESR has responded to the request.

Please feel free to download and share the file below:

My Initial Analysis

The main points from their response are listed below:

  • ESR does not know the contents of the alleged infected sample (IE, they don't know if UTM/VTM was used and at what quantities).

  • ESR does not use a sample from a healthy person in their cell culture experimental control group (which means their control is simply invalid because there is more than 1 variable difference between their control and their experimental groups)

  • ESR referenced a protocol that recommended using WATER as the control for the genetic sequencing experiment. Water is simply an invalid comparison as their sample will contain many different components such as RNA from Fetal Bovine Serum from the UTM/VTM that would not be contained in the water.

Based on the ESR OIA response, I have additional questions. This has resulted into 2 additional OIA requests to ESR which they will respond to in March.

Storage Medium

In my original request, I asked for the storage medium for the cell culture. However, I think this was misunderstood by ESR and instead they provided the nutrient solution for the experiments. I have asked for clarification. From my readings, the storage medium is a rich solution that promotes cell growth. DMEM is a minimal nutrient solution which will retard growth. I would like to compare the storage medium to their experimental medium (DMEM) as I believe by reducing the nutrients to the cell culture, the cell culture health will be negatively impacted.

Cell Culture Output Data

I would like to know how many flasks were used for both the experimental and control groups. I also want to know how many of the flasks exhibited CPE in both groups. Without this information, how can anyone judge the experiment. It is like someone showing a mathematical equation but not provide you with the answers.

Mind you, the control group is invalid because they do not use a sample from a healthy person, it is still good to find out their results none-the-less.

Genetic Sequencing

They did not directly provide any records for any controls used for their genetic sequencing experiment. So I have directly asked for this information in a new OIA. As I mentioned above, one of the protocol documents they provided me contains a suggestion to use water as a control for the RNA sequencing. This is not comparable as their original sample will have genetic material that is from other sources such as bacteria, FBS, environmental contaminants, and etc.

I also asked for the specific purity of the virus used in their sequencing experiment. They mistook this to mean purity of RNA. However, I was asking for the purity of the virus particles. So I hope that I made this correction clear. The answer will be that they do not purify any viruses to be used in their genetic sequencing experiment, but I want to ask anyways.

Input and Output

The cell culture experiment produces an output presumably containing viruses (we know it does not). Logically, the output of the cell culture experiment should be used as the input in the genetic sequencing experiment. However, some papers don’t use the output and instead use the original sample as the starting point for the genetic sequence (which still has the same genetic contaminants from FBS and others). I have asked for clarification.

Additional Information

I have not read that any of these papers runs their genetic sequencing experiments multiple times so I thought I would ask ESR. Let's take the following situation where there is 1 sample that ESR has run PCR on and is positive (for an alleged virus).

This sample should be added to 10 flasks using their normal cell culture process. CPE should be exhibited from all 10 flasks right? Then take the output from all 10 flasks and run that through their genetic sequencing experiments. The genetic sequence should be 100% the same for all 10 flasks if they actually found a virus. But we know that since there is so much manual manipulation of reads and contigs, and that the gene sequencing programs are non-deterministic, that they will not be able to produce 100% matches between all 10 flasks. But I thought it would be interesting to ask if they ever considered doing that experiment because that would surely disprove their results. I also asked them to run a control using a sample from a healthy person (PCR non-positive). Also remember, repeatability is a cornerstone of the scientific method. If you cannot repeat an experiment and get the same results, your experiment is not scientific.

Conclusion

ESR has already provided enough information to demonstrate that their experiments are not scientific because their controls are invalid. However, I would like additional information from them to solidify my understanding and to clear up uncertainty. I will update this page when I receive a response in March.