Scientists are concerned that a ‘zombie virus’ that had been buried in permafrost in Siberia for 48,500 years has been resurrected.
Jean-Michel Claverie, a French scientist, examined frozen earth samples to discover if any virus particles were still infectious.
He was able to resurrect a virus identified from permafrost in 2014, making it contagious for the first time in 30,000 years by putting it into cultivated cells.
In his most recent study, published in the journal Viruses in February, Mr Claverie and his colleagues recovered six strains of an old virus from permafrost samples collected from seven different locations across Siberia.
He stated to CNN:
“We see these amoeba-infecting viruses as surrogates for all other potential viruses that may reside in the permafrost. There are signs of many, many more viruses.
“So we know they are there (but) we don’t know for sure that they are still alive. Yet, if the amoeba viruses are still alive, there is no reason why the other viruses should not be alive and capable of infecting their own hosts.”