A group of French scientists has reportedly revived a 48,500-year-old ‘zombie virus’ buried under a frozen lake in Russia.
According to a report in the New York Post, the ‘zombie virus’ was discovered after enormous swathes of permafrost — permanently frozen ground that covers one-quarter of the Northern Hemisphere melted away due to global warming.
Melting ice exposed the zombie virus
The report said 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 revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times,” the researchers said.
While the Pandoravirus was discovered at the bottom of a lake in Yukechi Alas, Yakutia, Russia, others have been found everywhere, from mammoth fur to Siberian wolf intestines. Yakutia is the coldest human-inhabited place on earth.
Oldest virus revived yet
The oldest, Pandoravirus yedoma, was 48,500 years old, a record age for a frozen virus returning to a form where it may infect other creatures. This breaks the previous record of a 30,000-year-old virus identified in Siberia by the same scientists in 2013.
The new strain is one of 13 viruses described in the study, each with its own genome, according to Science Alert.
Could cause another pandemic
Scientists discovered that all of the “zombie viruses” have the potential to be infectious and hence pose a “health danger” after researching the live cultures. They believe that COVID-19-style pandemics will become more common in the future as melting permafrost releases long-dormant viruses like a microbial Captain America, as per New York Post.
“It is therefore legitimate to ponder the risk of ancient viral particles remaining infectious and getting back into circulation by the thawing of ancient permafrost layers,” they claimed.
More research is needed to assess the level of infectiousness of these unknown viruses when exposed to light, heat, oxygen, and other outside environmental variables.
New York Post report added that the newly thawed virus might only be the tip of the epidemiological iceberg as there are likely more hibernating viruses yet to be discovered.
Baba Vanga predicted discovery of frozen virus
Coincidentally, one of the predictions attributed to Vangeliya Pandeva Gushterova, aka Baba Vanga, the blind Bulgarian mystic for 2022, was that a frozen virus would be discovered.
“A team of researchers will discover a lethal virus in Siberia that was, up until now, frozen. Due to the catastrophic effects of global warming, said virus will be released and could quickly spin out of control,” she had reportedly predicted.