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Scientists Warn of Potential ‘Zombie Viruses’ from Melting Arctic Ice

Recent reports from scientists have issued a warning about the risks posed by dormant viruses that may be buried under the ice caps in the Arctic. They suggest that the melting of this permafrost, caused by global warming, could potentially release ‘zombie viruses’ that might trigger a cataclysmic global health crisis. This warning is a result of findings from samples taken from Siberian permafrost, which were successfully revived by a scientist last year. The source of this news is Reader Wall.

Analysis of Pandemic Threats

According to Jean-Michel Claverie, a geneticist at Aix-Marseille University, the current focus on analysing pandemic threats centers on diseases emerging from southern regions with a potential to spread north. However, Claverie emphasises that there is not enough attention given to the possibility of an outbreak beginning in the far north and spreading southward. “The oversight,” he says, “is that there are viruses up there that have the potential to infect humans and start a new disease outbreak.”

Although only capable of infecting amoebae, the isolated viruses do not pose a risk to humans. But Claverie warns that this does not rule out the possibility of other viruses, which are at present frozen in the permafrost, causing illnesses in humans. He points to evidence of genomic traces of known human pathogens such as poxviruses and herpesviruses.

Increased Risk through Industrial Development

Claverie explains that the danger arises as a result of an increase in industrial activity such as shipping, traffic, and mining in Siberia due to the disappearance of Arctic sea ice. These new mining operations have plans to dig deep into the permafrost to extract oil and ores which can result in the release of a great number of dormant pathogens. He fears that “Miners will walk in and breathe the viruses. The effects could be calamitous.”

Agreement from Medical Experts

Backing up Claverie’s claim, Marion Koopmans from the Erasmus Medical Center in Rotterdam, agrees that the hidden viruses in the permafrost pose a legitimate threat. “We don’t know what viruses are lying out there in the permafrost,” she explains, “but I think there is a real risk that there might be one capable of triggering a disease outbreak – say of an ancient form of polio. We have to assume that something like this could happen.”

These findings and warnings highlight the unexpected and potentially catastrophic risks that may emerge as a result of our changing global climate.


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