“Threat to public health”: a virus that froze 48,000 years ago has been “brought back to life”

A team of scientists has succeeded in reviving a virus that had been frozen for 48,500 years in the frozen ground of Siberia, warning that this is evidence of the possible danger of an outbreak of “zombie viruses” due to global warming.

The team of scientists from France, Germany and Russia, led by Prof. Jean-Michel Clavery from the School of Medicine of the University of Aix-Marseille, “brought back to life” in the laboratory the virus that was discovered 16 meters below the bottom of a lake in Sakha-Ikutia in the Russian Far East, and identified that it was Able to infect cells even after thousands of years.

The virus was discovered at a depth of 16 meters below the bottom of a lake in Sakha-Ikutia (Photo: IngeImage)

In total, the scientists isolated 13 types of virus from seven samples of frozen Siberian soil, and were only looking for viruses of the Pandora virus strain, which is capable of infecting single-celled organisms, such as amoebas, in order to prevent a risk to humans, after the viruses return to activity. In the past, Claveri and his team members have already succeeded in reviving 30,000-year-old viruses, but he noted that the current virus is the oldest discovered so far. “48,500 years – this is a world record for a virus,” stated the French scientist.

The current virus is the oldest yet discovered.  Illustration (Photo: Reuters)The current virus is the oldest yet discovered. Illustration (Photo: Reuters)

In view of the findings, the scientists warned that there may be zombie viruses, which have been frozen for tens of thousands of years and may attack humans and animals as well, if they are released due to global warming. “If ancient giant viruses remained infectious, after being frozen for so long, so would other types of viruses that can attack mammals,” they said.


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