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Today in we're-all-going-to-die news, a French lab has somehow misplaced more than 2,000 vials containing fragments of the SARS virus. You remember SARS? The deadly virus that killed 800 people during a global epidemic in 2003. 

SARS, or Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, was considered a global outbreak until it was contained in 2003. The last known human SARS infections were reported in China in 2004, and those happened to be acquired by researchers studying it in a lab. ABC News assures us that the misplaced fragments of the virus are not themselves dangerous. But the issue is that the Pasteur Institute's standards might be much too lax to be studying SARS. What if someone stole them hoping to use them for some nefarious purpose? What if the lab misplaced vials containing the complete virus and no one knew?

As for what happened to the missing vials, the lab has left that up to the authorities. France's National Security Agency of Medicines and Health Products is investigating the mix-up. Vanderbilt University's Dr. William Schaffner speculates that the vials could have been "accidentally incinerated and destroyed." But "the worst case scenario is that we will never know what happened to them." So try to not to worry about?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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