France has a big problem that could see untold numbers of people become ill. Reports indicate that thousands of vials of the contagious respiratory disease SARS have gone missing form a high-security lab in France. With thousands of missing vials, high-security is a misnomer for sure.
Telegraph reports that 2300 tubes containing samples of the potentially lethal SARS virus have gone missing from the Pasteur Institute in Paris. The institute claims that there is "no infections potential" from the lost vials.
The institute has also reportedly filed a complaint against unknown persons to try to resolve the disappearance of the vials.
SARS stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome and is an illness that appeared in China in 2002. It killed 775 people and infected about 8000. SARS has been dormant with no known infections of the disease since 2004.
The missing vials were discovered during a normal inventory at the research center. Once the researchers were unable to locate the vials, the French drug and health safety agency was called in. A four day in depth investigation began and so far, the mystery is unresolved.
The thousands of vials of SARS were reportedly kept in 29 different boxes in a refrigerator in a high security lab known as P3 where infectious viruses are stored. some think they might have been inadvertently destroyed.
“We looked for the boxes everywhere,” Mr. Bréchot told Le Monde. “We went through the lists of all the people who have worked here for the past year and a half, including interns. We analyzed their profiles to check there was no conflict of interest,” he said.