Scientists revive ‘zombie’ virus that spent 48,500 years frozen in permafrost

Top scientists are concerned after a zombie virus that spent 48,500 years frozen in permafrost has been revived.

For decades, scientists around the world have been testing and experimenting on permafrost from places such as Russia and Canada.

Contained within the frosts – which covers around one fifth of the world – are also remains of ancient extinct animals such as woolly rhinos.

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And Jean-Michel Claverie, who is an Emeritus professor of medicine and genomics at the Aix-Marseille University School of Medicine in France has been on the hunt for a “zombie virus”.

And soberingly, he has now found some – and revived them.

Having already revived two viruses in a way that could not be harmful to humans, he has done it again having isolated several ancient virus strains from permafrost harvested from Siberia, one of which dates back 48,500 years and were found around 16 metres underground.

Another dates back just 27,000 years and was found inside the stomach contents and coat of a long-dead Woolly Mammoth.

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He told CNN: “We view these amoeba-infecting viruses as surrogates for all other possible viruses that might be in the permafrost.

“We see the traces of many, many, many other viruses.

“So we know they are there (but) we don’t know for sure that they are still alive.

“But our reasoning is that 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.”

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And while the finding and reviving doesn't impose a danger to humanity yet – unless it just so happens to escape from the highly secure laboratory he uses to test them . . . which would never happen in real life – he did warn that the thawing of permafrost around the world could cause the viruses to revive naturally.

He explained: “The risk is bound to increase in the context of global warming in which permafrost thawing will keep accelerating, and more people will populate the Arctic in the wake of industrial ventures.”

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