Lab Loses Thousands Of Vials Of Deadly SARS Virus

Source: Sydney Lupkin / ABC News

A French lab has lost more than 2,000 vials containing fragments of the deadly SARS virus, which killed nearly 800 people in a 2003 epidemic across four continents.

The Pasteur Institute in Paris, France announced this week that it realized it was missing the vials and contacted the country’s National Security Agency of Medicines and Health Products to conduct an investigation on April 8, according to a news release.

Although the fragments are not dangerous, they do raise concerns by revealing the lab’s vulnerability, said Dr. William Schaffner, chair of preventive medicine at Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville, Tenn.

“It’s actually not in itself so scary but you wonder about the procedures in that laboratory,” said Schaffner, who is also a former president of the National Foundation for Infectious Diseases. “Could that lab and perhaps others actually misplace vials that have the complete virus so that it might escape?”

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