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Could a frozen Siberian 'zombie' virus cause a new pandemic ?

By T.K. Randall
January 21, 2024 · Comment icon 13 comments
Siberia.
Sunset in Siberia. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Dmitry A. Mottl
Viruses trapped in permafrost for thousands of years could potentially thaw out and infect modern humans.
The next pandemic could come, not from a Chinese wet market or secret government laboratory, but from deep within the Siberian permafrost, scientists have warned.

These so-called 'zombie' viruses (or Methuselah microbes) can lay dormant for thousands of years and then become active again once thawed out by rising global temperatures.

"At the moment, analyses of pandemic threats focus on diseases that might emerge in southern regions and then spread north," said geneticist Jean-Michel Claverie.

"By contrast, little attention has been given to an outbreak that might emerge in the far north and then travel south - and that is an oversight, I believe. There are viruses up there that have the potential to infect humans and start a new disease outbreak."
To combat this, scientists are preparing to set up a new Arctic monitoring network designed to identify outbreaks caused by ancient micro-organisms that have emerged from the ice.

Such viruses could be particularly dangerous because modern humans will have never been exposed to them and current medications may have only a limited effect.

What's more, studies have shown that ancient viruses are capable of infecting living cells - in one case researchers identified a viral strain that was almost 50,000 years old.

"We don't know what viruses are lying out there in the permafrost but I think there is a real risk that there might be one capable of triggering a disease outbreak - say of an ancient form of polio," said virologist Marion Koopmans who backed the move.

"We have to assume that something like this could happen."

Source: The Guardian | Comments (13)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by esoteric_toad 1 month ago
Seeing as all virus mutate ANY virus could be the next pandemic. Agree with openmindedsceptic......these sort of articles just want to scare people who do not know how virus work or cannot be bothered to find out.
Comment icon #5 Posted by OpenMindedSceptic 1 month ago
I never said it would create zombies. What on earth did you read? 
Comment icon #6 Posted by ercbreeze 1 month ago
Could a frozen Siberian 'zombie' virus cause a new pandemic?      Only if China somehow gets control of it . . .  ?  
Comment icon #7 Posted by Cho Jinn 1 month ago
I'm too busy masking up to answer the question.  Please, faceless and unaccountable bureaucrats, save me!
Comment icon #8 Posted by qxcontinuum 1 month ago
Spoiler   I don't think this is how it evolution works. We should have gained  immunity through time, to majority of ancient viruses .  The pithovirus, pandoravirus, and mollivirus are giant viruses that were revived from 30,000-year-old permafrost samples in Siberia. They infect amoebas, but not humans or other animals . The endogenous retroviruses (ERVs) are ancient viruses that have integrated into the human genome and make up about 8% of our DNA. Some of them may play a role in regulating gene expression, immune response, or placental development However  The anthrax outbreak i... [More]
Comment icon #9 Posted by godnodog 1 month ago
zombie orcs  this might explain russian tactics i did NATo saw that coming 
Comment icon #10 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 1 month ago
is there any historical cases of ancient virus infecting humans and or animals? beside the 75y old Anthrax case (I hardly consider that ancient)
Comment icon #11 Posted by Antigonos 1 month ago
That’s where it started in the novel World War Z. I think Max Brooks knows something.
Comment icon #12 Posted by Poncho_Peanatus 1 month ago
the black goo he kept talking about?
Comment icon #13 Posted by archm 30 days ago
I guess that means that in Jurassic Park, (my image) that when they extracted the DNA from the 300,000,000 year old mosquito some of the dinosaurs would have become very sick and died and caused a pandemic that killed off everything on the island? And if it got off the lsland would have caused a Planet of the Apes type scenaro? Or maybe the sharks around Australia will just get more angry?


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