Zombie viruses coming due to climate change | Inquirer Technology

Zombie viruses rise from permafrost due to global warming

02:12 PM October 12, 2023

The once icy, muddy banks of Russia’s Kolyma River are thawing due to climate change, potentially releasing ancient terrors called zombie viruses. Yahoo Finance reported on virologist Jean-Michel Claverie’s mission to study these buried pathogens. His team discovered these ancient viruses remain infectious and may reemerge from ice due to global warming.

The recent pandemic has made everyone more wary about pathogens. More importantly, numerous governments and researchers work diligently to root out potential sources of another viral disaster. We must learn more about their work to address these threats immediately. As a result, we could prevent another year of global lockdowns and isolation.

This article will discuss why 50,000-year-old pathogens may become a new global threat due to climate change. Later, you’ll learn how the public should react to such findings.

What is the risk of zombie viruses?

Graphic indicating the importance of considering the dangers of zombie viruses.

Birgitta Evengård, professor emerita at Umea University’s Department of Clinical Microbiology in Sweden, said we must monitor zombie viruses due to their potential threat. “You must remember our immune defense has been developed in close contact with our microbiological surroundings.”

“If there is a virus hidden in the permafrost that we have not been in contact with for thousands of years, it might be that our immune defense is not sufficient.” NASA defines permafrost as “any ground that remains completely frozen—32°F (0°C) or colder—for at least two years straight”

Yahoo Finance says Virus expert Jean-Michel Claverie has been studying these “giant” viruses for more than ten years. He and his team confirmed ancient pathogens from the Siberian permafrost remain infectious. “

With climate change, we are used to thinking of dangers coming from the south,” Claverie said, referring to diseases spreading from tropical regions.

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“Now, we realize there might be some danger coming from the north as the permafrost thaws and frees microbes, bacteria, and viruses,” he added. Some might think zombie virus warnings are fear-mongering, but similar threats have emerged.

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In 2016, a heat wave in Siberia activated anthrax sores. Consequently, they infected dozens and killed thousands of reindeer and a child. Claverie has found seven families of zombie viruses, ranging from 27,000 to 48,500 years old.

According to Australia’s 9 News report, “We view these amoeba-infecting viruses as surrogates for all other possible viruses that might be in the permafrost.”

“If the amoeba viruses are still alive, there is no reason why the other viruses will not be still alive and capable of infecting their own hosts,” he added.

Should we worry about zombie viruses?

Illustration representing the risk assessment of zombie viruses.

Experts say we should not worry about these infectious organisms despite their potential threat. Zombie viruses are unlikely to turn into the next COVID pandemic.

Assistant Professor Jeremy Barr from Monash University said many people are “terrified of the word virus after the pandemic.” Yet, he claims most viruses are beneficial and don’t cause illnesses.

“This is nothing to be worried about,” Barr said. Moreover, he commented on amoeba viruses similar to Claverie’s discoveries. “Viruses have emerged from 50,000 years ago, but these are viruses infect amoeba,” he explained.

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“It’s likely those amoebae lived in those soil samples 50,000 years ago, and those viruses were frozen there. If there were a frozen virus that could infect us, you would need to have frozen humans or human bodies from 50,000 years ago that died from a virus to revive a virus that could infect us,” he added.

Believe it or not, Professor Barr says these ancient pathogens are a “cool novelty” that could lead to key virus research breakthroughs. “You can look at this like a frozen time capsule where we can go back 50,000 years ago and find these viruses that were infecting micro-organisms,” he said.

“We can study a lot of that. How did viruses from 50,000 years ago affect those organisms, and how do they compare to organisms now? That’s really cool.”

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Conclusion

Zombie viruses may emerge from Siberian permafrost as it thaws due to global warming. However, we cannot confirm whether they could harm modern humans and animals.

We shouldn’t worry about this discovery, but we must follow its latest developments. “It is correct to have respect for the situation and be proactive and not just reactive,” Professor Birgitta Evengård said.

“And the way to fight fear is to have the knowledge,” Evengård added. Starn equipping yourself with the latest digital tips and trends at Inquirer Tech.

TOPICS: interesting topics, Science and technology, Trending, Virus
TAGS: interesting topics, Science and technology, Trending, Virus

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