48,500-Year-Old 'Zombie Virus' Revived in Siberian Permafrost: Should You Care?
European researchers have revived 13 “zombie viruses” or pathogens from Russia’s Siberian permafrost.
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European researchers have revived 13 “zombie viruses” or pathogens from Russia’s Siberian permafrost. One of these viruses, Pandoravirus yedoma, found frozen under a lake, is more than 48,500 years old.
The other viruses are also tens of thousands of years old, said the study posted on bioRxiv.
Why would they do such a thing? Well, scientists say that their work actually should be "extrapolated to show that the danger is real."
What danger, you ask? Because of global warming and climate change, scientists warn that many viruses might be potentially revived and released into the atmosphere, which could then infect other species. This is a public health concern, wrote Jean-Marie Alempic, the lead researcher, in Science Alert.
But... there’s no direct/immediate harm done by reviving the viruses for this research, because the strains that were studied mainly target or infect only amoeba microbes.
However, even after being frozen for nearly 50,000 years, these viruses are still infectious, said the researchers from Russia, Germany, and France.
Is there anything else that you should know? Yes. According to the researchers:
“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. But the risk is bound to increase in the context of global warming when permafrost thawing will keep accelerating, and more people will be populating the Arctic in the wake of industrial ventures.”
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