Zombie Virus

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    • Recently, the French scientists have warned of the onset of another outbreak after they revived a 48,500-year-old zombie virus buried under a frozen lake in Russia.
      • This has broken the previous record held by a 30,000-year-old virus discovered by the same team in Siberia in 2013.

    What is a Zombie Virus?

    • Zombie virus is the term given to a virus that is frozen in ice and therefore dormant.
    • The virus emerged due to the thawing of permafrost as the global temperature is rising.
    • It is a group of viruses which have been dormant for thousands of years
    • It is dubbed Pandoravirus yedoma after the mythological character Pandora which was 48,500 years old and has the potential to infect other organisms. 
      • It was discovered below the bottom of a lake in Yukechi Alas in Yakutia, Russia.

    What could be the cause of it?

    • One-quarter of the Northern hemisphere is underlain by permanently frozen ground which is referred to as permafrost.
      • Due to climate warming, irreversibly thawing permafrost is releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years and most of which decomposes into carbon dioxide and methane which further enhances the greenhouse effect.
      • Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistoric times. 

    Is the virus potentially harmful?

    • All of the zombie viruses have the potential to be infectious and hence pose a health danger.
    • It is believed that pandemics like Covid-19 will become more common in the future as melting permafrost releases long-dormant viruses.

    Source: ET