Science & Technology
Vials marked 'smallpox' found in US laboratory
By T.K. Randall
November 18, 2021 · 28 comments
How many more vials of smallpox could be out there ? Image Credit: Pixabay / fernandozhiminaicela
The vials were discovered quite by accident by a laboratory worker who had been cleaning out a freezer.
Smallpox, which is caused by the variola virus, is simultaneously one of the worst diseases in the history of mankind and one of modern medicine's greatest success stories, given that a concerted vaccination effort ultimately succeeded in wiping it out completely.
There are however still a limited number of vials containing samples of the disease being kept securely at laboratories for research purposes - a point of contention among many who would prefer to have seen every single trace of smallpox destroyed, making it impossible for it to ever infect anyone again.
Authorities have always maintained that there is no risk because the samples are being kept securely, however this assertion has now been cast into doubt following the recent discovery of several vials marked 'smallpox' by a laboratory worker who had been cleaning out a freezer.
The find, which was made in Pennsylvania, is now being formally investigated.
"CDC, its administration partners, and law enforcement are investigating the matter and the vials' contents appear intact," said CDC spokesperson Belsie Gonzalez.
"The laboratory worker who discovered the vials was wearing gloves and a face mask."
"There is no indication that anyone has been exposed to the small number of frozen vials."
Whether or not the vials actually do contain smallpox currently remains unclear, but if they do, there will need to be a serious investigation into how this could have happened and whether or not there are other vials of this deadly disease out there, just waiting to be found by unsuspecting lab workers.
Source: Sky News
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