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Science & Technology

Blast occurs at Russian lab housing smallpox

September 17, 2019 | Comment icon 12 comments



Should the remaining smallpox samples be destroyed ? Image Credit: PD - John Keith
A gas explosion caused a fire on Monday at the Vector Institute biological research facility in Siberia.
Located in Koltsovo city, the facility is one of only two places worldwide to possess samples of the smallpox virus (with the other being the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta.)

Known for its epidemiological research and development of an ebola vaccine, the Vector Institute has since moved to reassure people that no biohazard substances were involved in the explosion and that there is no risk to the surrounding community.

The incident however does raise questions over the wisdom of maintaining samples of what is considered to be one of the world's most dangerous pathogens.
Smallpox was responsible for over 300 million deaths during the 20th Century alone.

The facility itself has also been embroiled in controversy - back in the 1990s a high-ranking Soviet official who defected to the United States claimed that the smallpox samples had been moved there for the purpose of conducting research into biological weapons.

Given how deadly the virus can be, many have called for the samples to be destroyed.

It remains to be seen however what will ultimately become of them.

Source: The Bulletin | Comments (12)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #3 Posted by spartan max2 3 years ago
Well that's concerning lol Hopefully the explosion would kill any buga that got out.
Comment icon #4 Posted by Dark_Grey 3 years ago
So a guy mopping floors lit a cigarette next to a "no smoking" sign. Kaboom.
Comment icon #5 Posted by XenoFish 3 years ago
That was some strong cleaning fluid. 
Comment icon #6 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
The authorities said no damage was done to the area(s) housing deadly pathogens. And we should TOTALLY trust them. TOTALLY.
Comment icon #7 Posted by aztek 3 years ago
when Russians start dropping like flies, we'll know, but i have no doubt room  where pathogens are stored has several meters tick reinforced concrete walls, floors ceiling, with airtight  blast door as thick as nuclear bunkers doors
Comment icon #8 Posted by Seti42 3 years ago
You're most likely right. I have just watched HBO's Chernobyl, though. I can't help but wonder if the reports are drastically downplaying the explosion/fire and damages to the building's structure.
Comment icon #9 Posted by aztek 3 years ago
will see soon enough, if they lied and virus may be out, we will see major activity around the city, like with Chernobyl they were quiet few weeks then evacuated entire town, evacuation of such proportions not easy to hide, especially when every Russian now has a phone and can post a video
Comment icon #10 Posted by It's Just An Opinion 3 years ago
I feel like in the past five years they've incidentally exploded alot of their own things. Facilities, Submarines, Ammo storage buildings,  ect.  888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888888 Ivan: "Satlin, how many things are you willing to sacrifice"? Stalin: "Da"
Comment icon #11 Posted by It's Just An Opinion 3 years ago
They told the residents of Chernobyl the same thing.  Probably because the cost of funerals is cheaper than a lifetime of rehabilitation from radiation. 
Comment icon #12 Posted by Gromdor 3 years ago
It would be alarming if it were a terrorist attack in an attempt to steal bio-weapons.  But I can believe construction explosion.


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