How in the FXXX do you sent out thousands of samples of a pandemic virus by accident?

I’m talking about this story. How does some Bullshit company in Ohio send out thousands of samples of a virus responsible for the deaths of millions? For that matter why would anyone have enough extremely pathogenic virus (that killed millions in the late 1950’s) to make thousands of samples just sitting around waiting to be sent out by mistake? Why is this not front page news 24/7 instead of the Michael Jackson trial? Why are people not calling for Congressional investigations into how this happened?

It was headline news down here at the edge of the world – even though we aren’t affected. How’d it happen? My money’s on bad bureaucracy.

It’s been in the news just not in proportion to the magnitude of the situation. I don’t see reporters demanding answers or politicians asking for explanations.

Lab amanger: Send out a sample of DXC43331AFF2A21-C33D48 to everyone on List A.

Lab tech: OK!

Lab manager: Whoops, that should have been DXC43331AFF2A21-C33D46 to everyone on List A…

Lab tech: Hilarity ensues!
I’m not saying it’s ok, but I can think of some hypotheticals that would cause a snafu like this to happen.


This has been done already. THe situation isn’t as dire or dangerous as people make it out to be and the media, IMO, has blown this way the fuck out of proportion. Oh, and due to that unwarranted attention, and having it be released in the news before all of the kits could be received by their intended recipients, some might have gone “missing”.


The last thing we need is politicians mucking around with this.


No cite right now but IIRC when the news went out a few of the sample kits went ‘missing’.
In Lebanon.


Let me know if I’m understanding this correctly. Instead of sending out the mild flu, the lab sends out the muy picante version. Now they aren’t even sure if they sent it out or not.
These people are allowed to handle deadly viruses?

What makes this case so troubling and worse even than something like Anthrax or Marburg getting out in America is that we are talking about influenza. Not only are we talking about influenza, but we are talking about a specific strain that has proven itself to be both deadly and easily spread (and to which little natural or vaccine mediated immunity exists in the population). All it takes if for one lab tech to not wear a mask, or wash their hands and that bird is out of the bag and not coming back.

Also, I talked to an old buddy I have who works for the CDC in Atlanta and he essentially said the following:

We now know that the actual origin of all of this 1957 flu virus is a US firm in Virginia called American Type Culture Collection which has been the one that originated packages that are then sent out all over the place through these various intermediaries. Well get this between 1985 and 1989, American Type Culture Collection sent Iraq up to 70 shipments of various bio-war agents including 21 strains of anthrax. He said that the Pentagon did an investigation of these shipments and found no violations of law, but that the researcher who headed up the investigation for the Pentagon was a man named Joshua Letterberg who had previously been a director for American Type Culture.

  • This seems to be the route that the virus traveled from American Type Culture to labs everywhere it went from American Type Culture Collection in Virginia to the Meridian Company in Cincinnati then it was sent via Fed Ex from Cincinnati down to the Texas / Mexico border to a subsidiary of Meridian - and finally it was sent out to all the labs. So it was crisscrossing the country before it got started towards its final destinations to the labs.

Here is the link to the company from where all of this virus came from: and a link to a description of what it is that they do .

Hogwash. You’re implying a causal relationship where there is clearly none. The test kits were sent out between October of last year and February. The error was made public on April 13th. The packages were missing before anyone knew that they contained the Asian flu virus.

Who’s blowing things out of proportion now? Almost five thousand packages were sent out, and two didn’t arrive. Anyone who’s worked in shipping will agree that that’s a spectacularly good loss rate. It’s a bit silly to suggest that it’s more likely that bad guys have intercepted it because this enormous snafu got some press. A pandemic virus is a lousy candidate for weaponization, even if you’ve got a microbiology infrastructure that’s gung-ho to give it the old college try.

I don’t know what you think should have been done instead of acknowledging the error – maybe have Dr. Stephen Connor and his team of sexy lab workers swoop in on their fancy helicopter to begin discreetly combing Lebanese ditches for the missing FedEx envelope? How do you imagine the problem could have been dealt with without attracting media attention? You can’t tell 50,000 lab workers, “Oh, by the way, you were accidentally sent a live culture of the SuperFlu, could you please quietly autoclave it in order to make absolutely sure that nobody buggers up and triggers a pandemic?” and expect it to pass without comment.

What course of action best suits the public interest?

“American Type Culture Collection” sounds like a Franklin Mint line of adorable genre figurines.

Carry on.

Does it really need to be weaponized? Couldn’t someone just infect himself and go sneeze on people on the NYC subway?

I think that the shit shouldn’t have been just “sitting around” in sufficient quantities that a “mistake” of this magnitude could have even been made. We are talking about a Level II pathogen here (and it probably should be a level III or IV given that it has killed millions before ) . I haven’t even heard American Cell mentioned in the freaking news. I think there “mistake” was at least as bad as anything done by Enron and that’s a household name.

That would be a form of “weaponization,” turning a human being into a delivery mechanism. (I can’t believe I’m being complicit in noun-verbing. Kill me now.)

Anyway, to be clear, what makes the virus an unlikely choice for a weapon is that it can’t really be applied locally. Releasing it in Grand Central Terminal would be bad for NYC, yeah, but it would almost certainly also have dire consequences for people in Syria, Iraq, Belgium, China, India, Tobago, etc. It’s too indiscriminate.

Exactly. H2N2 already classified as level 3 pathogen in Canada, which seems a bit commonsensical to me. I will be very surprised if it isn’t reclassified in the U.S. in short order.

What they really need to get is a 28 Days Later style virus.
Because zombies are neat and I need an excuse to start stockpiling ammo.

Well, I would say level IV given that bugs like Ebola, Hanta, and Marburg tend to kill quickly and spread only with fairly close contact. On the other hand influenza spreads in a manner almost impossible to control and is much more apt to kill hundreds of thousands or even millions rather than a few hundred or thousand (as it the likely worst case scenario with the above pathogens).


I think you mean Nobel prize winner Joshua Lederberg.