Scientists have brought back to life an ancient virus that was stuck in the permafrost for almost 50,000 years. The researchers are now warning that such viruses could become dangerous again as a result of climate change.
Researchers awaken zombie virus after 50,000 years
Scientists from the medical faculty of the University of Aix-Marseille in Marseille an ancient virus from the Siberian permafrost removed and brought back to life. They wanted to prove that such zombie viruses can become a danger again even after an extremely long time.
The oldest of the samples examined now is around 48,500 years old. That viruses are still infectious even after such a long time, could actually be a bigger problem, the researchers explain. They warn against dismissing the research as just a scientific curiosity and not as a serious threat (source: CNN).
This is not the first attempt of its kind. Back in 2014, the researchers managed to bring a paleovirus isolated from the permafrost back to life and make it infectious for the first time in 30,000 years. For safety reasons, a virus is said to have been examined that only unicellular amoebas, but cannot affect animals or humans. The second successful attempt followed a year later.
For even more virus horror, these films are worthwhile:
No vaccination or treatment for paleoviruses
The researchers also warn that extremely old and previously little known viruses no specific treatment gives. Also, in the event of a disease outbreak, a vaccine would not be immediately available.
Climate change and the associated higher temperatures will cause permafrost to thaw, which could unleash old viruses. In Siberia, such a thaw has already been linked to outbreaks of anthrax in reindeer.