Laboratory testing at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today showed that recently discovered vials marked as “smallpox” contain vaccinia, the virus used in smallpox vaccine. There is no evidence that the vials contain variola virus, the cause of smallpox. CDC is in close contact with state and local health officials, law enforcement, and the World Health Organization about these findings.
On November 15, 2021, the U.S. Government was notified of the report of a small number of intact, frozen vials labeled “smallpox” discovered by a laboratory worker while cleaning out a freezer in a facility that conducts vaccine research in Pennsylvania.
The freezer facility was immediately secured and staff followed standard protocols for notifying CDC of such a potential discovery. The vials were sent securely to CDC for testing on November 18 to determine what they contained. No one was exposed to the contents of the vials.