Vials labeled “smallpox” discovered at Merck lab near Philadelphia

Thursday, November 18th, 2021

A Merck vaccine research lab in the Philadelphia area was temporarily placed on lockdown Tuesday night after the discovery of “questionable” vials inside a freezer that were labeled “smallpox” and “vaccinia,” according to an alert received by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security:

Fifteen frozen vials were found at the research facility, including 10 labeled as “smallpox” and five as “vaccinia.” Both are members of the poxvirus family, but the virus that causes smallpox was a particularly deadly scourge until it was declared eradicated by the World Health Organization in 1980.

The facility was placed on lockdown by the FBI and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, but reportedly was lifted after an initial investigation.

Merck has a pair of facilities in Montgomery County in West Point and North Wales, but authorities have not identified the specific lab where the lockdown occurred.


  1. Jim says:

    I’m surprised that the vial wasn’t labeled “anthrax”.

  2. Bob Sykes says:

    If it were anthrax, that would be a relief. Very much smaller problem.

    Evidently, there were many labs investigating smallpox many years ago. I bet there are vials all over the place, and not just in USAMRIID and Russia.

    Years ago, a white paper bag with a blue version of the radiation hazard symbol showed up in multi-departmental lab at my university. The lab did not use radioactive materials, and it did not have a license to do so. The incident raised unHoly Hell, and the university was fined.

    The person who left the bag was never identified, but suspects were some people who also did joint research with a private research company that did use radioactive materials.

    The number of labs holding dangerous materials that were left behind and forgotten must be very large. There must be one at every university and drug company.

  3. Jim says:

    Very sensible. Please excuse my having impugned anthrax and its various hoaxes and their various hoaxers.

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