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Siberian ‘Zombie’ Viruses | The next deadly pandemic

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The new and unforeseen pandemic threat, one that could emerge from the depths of the Arctic permafrost – a threat posed by ancient zombie viruses. The questions that loom large are: What could be the next deadly pandemic? And is the world adequately prepared to confront and contain it? 

As global warming continues to thaw these icy expanses, scientists warn of the possibility of releasing dormant pathogens that have been frozen in time for centuries. 

Arctic zombie viruses in Siberia could spark terrifying new pandemic,  scientists warn | Health |

Source: The Guardian

The permafrost, once a frozen repository of ancient viruses, is now becoming a ticking time bomb. As the planet warms, the permafrost thaws, releasing organic matter containing these dormant viruses. This phenomenon is exacerbated by increased human activity in the northernmost regions, driven by the melting sea ice. The permafrost, covering a substantial portion of the northern hemisphere, including areas in Serbia, Canada, and Alaska, is now under threat due to mining and industrial activities. 

The consequence? People exploring these regions may find themselves exposed to potentially deadly viruses.

The push for extensive mining operations in the Arctic raises concerns about the inadvertent release of pathogens. Prof Claverie warns that these operations, extracting oil and ores from the deep permafrost, could unleash vast amounts of viruses. Miners, in turn, risk inhaling these pathogens, with potentially calamitous effects. The urgency to address this threat has prompted collaboration between scientists and the University of the Arctic network to detect early cases of diseases caused by these ancient viruses.

Zombie virus' buried in ice for 48,500 years could trigger deadly pandemic  -

Source: India Today

Early Detection and Quarantine Measures:

Prof Claverie, along with other scientists, is actively engaged in the detection and prevention of potential outbreaks. The focus is on establishing early quarantine facilities and providing medical expertise to identify and treat cases before they escalate. While traditional analyses of pandemic threats often center on diseases emerging in southern regions and spreading north, the Arctic presents a unique scenario. The emphasis is now shifting to address outbreaks originating in the far north and potentially traveling south.

The Arctic’s average temperature has risen at a rate three times higher than the global average, creating a conducive environment for preserving biological material. Prof Claverie highlights the key characteristics of permafrost – cold, dark, and lacking oxygen – as perfect conditions for the preservation of ancient viruses. As global warming continues to transform the Arctic’s landscape, the risk of unleashing unseen pathogens grows, posing a threat to human health on a global scale.

Arctic zombie viruses in Siberia could spark terrifying new pandemic,  scientists warn

Source: Firstpost

Prof Koopmans draws parallels between the current situation in the Arctic and past epidemics, emphasizing the role of change in land use as a key driver. Historical outbreaks such as the Nipah virus and monkeypox have been linked to alterations in habitats driven by human activities. The Arctic is now undergoing a similar transformation in land use, raising concerns about the potential dangers that may follow, as witnessed in other parts of the world.

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