‘Zombie virus’ reactivated after spending 48,500 years in Siberian ice

Viruses were released following the thawing of the permafrost. A study warns of the potential danger of the phenomenon. Explanations.

Global warming worries and surprises. According to a recent pre-published study (which has not yet been peer-reviewed), global warming, causing permafrost to thaw, is likely to lead to the release of “virus zombie”explains in particular BFM TV.

Should we be worried?

According to the study, it is in any case a “public health threat“. As explained Geowho quotes here Bloomergthe melting of the frozen soils of Siberia could indeed release new viruses into the air, sometimes infectious, which would have lost none of their dangerousness, despite their extreme age.

During work led by CNRS microbiologist Jean-Marie Alempic, scientists have already revived two dozen viruses, nicknamed “zombie virus”. Among them: a virus trapped in the gel for 48,500 years.

“48,500 years is a new record,” said Jean-Michel Claverie, professor of genomics and bioinformatics at the Faculty of Medicine of the University of Aix-Marseille, interviewed by the media. New Scientist. His team had already resurrected a virus from the Siberian permafrost, but it was “only” 30,000 years old.

The researchers say it is still “impossible to estimate how long these viruses could remain harmful” to health once exposed to “light and heat”. We also do not know if these viruses spread and are transmitted, in particular to humans.

This is reassuring for the time being, even if the scientists wish to recall that “the risk can only increase in the context of global warming, while the thawing of the permafrost will continue to accelerate and that more and more people will populate the Arctic in the wake of industrial enterprises”.

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