Zombie Virus: Scientists revive 48,500-year-old virus buried in ice in Russia

The scientists revived and characterized 13 new pathogens, what they termed ‘Zombie Viruses’, and found that they remained infectious despite spending many millennia trapped in the frozen ground.

Zombie Virus in Russia
Zombie Virus in Russia

Zombie Virus in Russia: French scientists have revived a 48,500-year-old Zombie Virus buried under a frozen lake in Russia. Reportedly, the scientists have sparked fear of yet another pandemic after reviving the ‘Zombie Virus’.

As per the Preliminary report, global warming is irrevocably thawing enormous swathes of permafrost-permanently frozen ground that cover one-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere. This has had the unsettling effect of releasing organic materials frozen for up to a million years, possibly deadly germs included.

Part of this organic matter also consists of the revived cellular microbes as well as the viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times.

Zombie Virus revived in Russia: Key Points

1. The European Researchers examined the ancient samples collected from permafrost in the Siberia region of Russia.

2. The scientists revived and characterized 13 new pathogens, what they termed ‘Zombie Viruses’, and found that they remained infectious despite spending many millennia trapped in the frozen ground.

3. The new strain is one of the 13 viruses described in the study, each with its own genome.

4. Scientists have discovered that all Zombie Viruses have the potential to be infectious and hence pose a health danger after researching live cultures.

5. As per the scientists, COVID-19-style pandemics will become more common in the future as the melting permafrost releases long-dormant viruses.

6. It is therefore legitimate to ponder the risk of ancient viral particles remaining infectious and getting back into circulation by the thawing of the ancient permafrost layers.

Thawing of permafrost to worsen climate change

Scientists all over the world have long warned that the thawing of permafrost due to atmospheric warming will worsen climate change by freeing previously trapped greenhouse gases like Methane. However, its effect on dormant pathogens is less well understood.

Danger of unknown viruses

The team of researchers from Germany, Russia, and France said that the biological risk of reanimating the viruses they studied was totally negligible because of the strains they targeted, mainly those capable of infecting amoeba microbes.

The potential revival of a virus that could infect animals or humans is much more problematic and warned that their work can be extrapolated to show that the danger is real.

It is thus likely that the ancient permafrost will release these unknown viruses upon thawing. As per the scientists, how long these viruses could remain infectious once exposed to outdoor conditions, and how likely they will be to encounter and infect a suitable host in the interval, is yet impossible to estimate.

What is Permafrost?

Permafrost is any ground that remains completely frozen for at least two years straight. These permanently frozen grounds are most common in the regions with high mountains and in Earth’s higher latitudes- near the North and South Poles.

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