A important discovery of a virus that has lain dormant for an astounding 48,500 years has been made by researchers. Professor of bioinformatics and economics at Aix-Marseille University in France, Jean-Michel Claverie, has spent the last ten years looking for “zombie viruses.” Even after being frozen for hundreds or thousands of years, these latent germs possess the ability to infect hosts. Concerns over the potential health effects of these dormant viruses on humans were raised when the virus was discovered preserved in Siberian permafrost.
The focus of Claverie’s study is on viruses that can infect amoebae. Thirteen viruses that could infect amoebae when grown on petri plates were recovered by his team from samples of Siberian permafrost. The oldest virus discovered through radiocarbon dating of the permafrost samples was 27,000 years old, while the oldest had been frozen for an incredible 48,500 years, making it the oldest virus ever to resurface.
Mummifying organic matter for thousands of years, permafrost serves as a preservation method due to its extremely low temperatures, lack of oxygen, and microorganisms. But as permafrost thaws due to climate change, there’s a chance that hibernating viruses and other species could be released into the ecosystem. The Arctic’s warming may cause viruses that can infect people and animals to reappear.
Scientists stress the significance of researching these zombie viruses in advance, even if there is still much to learn about them and their possible hazards. They do, however, advise against inciting panic because it is yet unknown how thawed viruses would behave and how long they will live in contemporary environments. Furthermore, since viruses need a host in order to reproduce, the far-off locations of these frozen viruses reduce any immediate dangers. However, there is worry about the possible consequences of a human catching a zombie virus as the world warms and more people travel to the Arctic.
Experts advise keeping permafrost as frozen as possible, which necessitates taking steps to slow down climate change. Maintaining the Arctic’s extreme cold is thought to be the best course of action for reducing the dangers of thawing dormant virus.