CDC Makes Announcement After Vials Discovered in PA Lab

Feds Investigating After Mysterious Vials Discovered in PA Lab

( – The November 15 discovery of 5 vials labeled “smallpox” and 10 listed as “vaccinia” in a Pennsylvania Merck laboratory sparked an immediate scare. Smallpox is so deadly only two facilities in Atlanta and Russia can store samples of the dangerous virus. The facility immediately went into lockdown, and the FBI and CDC launched parallel investigations into the discovery. The CDC released its findings on November 18.

Fortunately, the CDC found “no evidence” the vials contained the “cause of smallpox,” the variola virus. Instead, they discovered the vials actually contained vaccinia, also known as the virus found in smallpox vaccine. The federal agency also reported no exposures to the virus at the Pennsylvania lab.

The discovery of the vials raised immediate alarm bells in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. There are theories the current pandemic started after a lab accident in Wuhan, China. Had the vials actually contained smallpox and broken open, the people at the lab would have been at risk of exposure.

During the 1900s, smallpox was blamed for the deaths of 300 million people. Most Americans haven’t been vaccinated against the virus in decades because the World Health Organization declared it was officially eradicated in 1980. That means it could have spread rapidly through the population. Fortunately, that didn’t happen because the vials didn’t contain the deadly virus.

Still, this situation serves as an example of the CDC’s ability to react quickly to discovering a potentially dangerous virus.

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