Scientists have revived a ‘zombie’ virus that spent 48,500 years frozen in permafrost

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48,500 year old Zombie Virus

To better understand the risks posed by frozen viruses, Jean-Michel Claverie, an Emeritus professor of medicine and genomics at the Aix-Marseille University School of Medicine in Marseille, France, has tested earth samples taken from Siberian permafrost to see whether any viral particles contained therein are still infectious. He’s in search of what he describes as “zombie viruses” — and he has found some.

“You must remember our immune defense has been developed in close contact with microbiological surroundings,” said Evengård, who is part of the CLINF Nordic Centre of Excellence, a group that investigates the effects of climate change on the prevalence of infectious diseases in humans and animals in northern regions.

“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,” she said. “It is correct to have respect for the situation and be proactive and not just reactive. And the way to fight fear is to have knowledge.”
 

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