Vials of what was labeled "Smallpox" were reportedly found in a lab freezer in Philadelphia on Monday night, sparking an immediate response from the FBI and the CDC.
Yahoo News reports that the 15 "questionable vials" were found in the Merck Pennsylvania lab freezer, with 10 labeled as "Vaccinia" and the remaining five labeled as deadly "Smallpox."
The facility was immediately locked down.
“There is no indication that anyone has been exposed to the small number of frozen vials. The frozen vials labeled ‘Smallpox’ were incidentally discovered by a laboratory worker while cleaning out a freezer in a facility that conducts vaccine research in Pennsylvania,” a CDC spokesperson told Yahoo News.
“CDC, its Administration partners, and law enforcement are investigating the matter, and the vials’ contents appear intact. The laboratory worker who discovered the vials was wearing gloves and a face mask. We will provide further details as they are available,” the spokesperson said.
As Science.org reported in 2014, when another set of vials was dioscovered in Maryland, Variola, or smallpox, which killed hundreds of millions before it was declared eradicated in 1980 through a worldwide vaccination campaign, is legally stored at only two locations in the United States and Russia.
Most Americans born since 1972 have not been vaccinated for smallpox. Under a 1979 WHO agreement, the only remaining official live smallpox stocks are kept at CDC in Atlanta and the VECTOR laboratory in Novosibirsk, Russia.
So, the question is... what are these 5 vials of 'smallpox' doing in a Merck lab near Philly?