Ancient zombie viruses trapped in the Arctic could unleash a new deadly pandemic

Microbes called Methuselah, also known as zombie viruses, are capable of remaining viable for tens of thousands of years locked in the frozen soil, which covers nearly 20 percent of Earth’s northern hemisphere.

A group of concerned scientists warned that Melting Arctic permafrost could unleash ancient zombie viruses and cause a catastrophic global health emergency.

“We now face a tangible threat and we must be prepared to meet it. It’s as simple as that,” geneticist Jean-Michel Claverie, emeritus professor of medicine and genomics at Aix-Marseille University, told The Guardian.

In accordance with Experts are already working with the Arctic University to establish a monitoring network to help identify cases of diseases caused by microorganisms old at an early stage, before their spread gets out of control.

The network would also provide quarantine facilities and medical services for those infected to help minimize a potential outbreak, including preventing contagious patients from leaving the region.

Microbes called Methuselah, also known as zombie viruses, are capable of remaining viable for tens of thousands of years locked in frozen soil.which covers almost 20 percent of Earth’s northern hemisphere.

“The crucial part about permafrost is that it is cold, dark and lacks oxygen, which is perfect for preserving biological material, you could put a yogurt in permafrost and it could still be edible 50 thousand years later,” Claverie said.

Scientists believe the deepest layers of permafrost could be preserving viruses that inhabited Earth up to a million years ago.long before the oldest ancestors of humans, who are believed to have made their first appearance on the planet about 300 thousand years ago.

Therefore, Modern humans would have no natural immunity against prehistoric viral invaders.

“Our immune system may never have come into contact with some of those microbes, and that’s another concern, the scenario that an unknown virus that once infected a Neanderthal came back to us, although unlikely, has become an real possibility.

The prospect of ancient viruses escaping their icy prisons in the most remote regions of the Earth and triggering a new global pandemic seems unlikely.but virologists believe there is at least some room for concern.