THERE are renewed fears of another pandemic after scientists revived a zombie virus that was trapped under a frozen lake for 50,000 jare.
More deadly viruses could be unleashed as soaring global temperatures cause permafrost to melt, disease experts have warned.
A team of medical boffins from Aix-Marseille University uncovered the ancient “pandoravirus” in melting permafrost in Siberia, Rusland.
Die siekte – found trapped beneath a lake bed in Yakutia for 48,500 jare – is believed to be the oldest “leef” virus to be recovered so far.
It infects single-cell organisms and isn’t believed to pose a threat to humans, experts said.
Professor Jean-Michel Claverie, who led the ground-breaking study, issued a stark warning to medical authorities in the first significant update on “leef” viruses in permafrost since 2015.
His team said up to a fifth of the land in the northern hemisphere is underpinned by permanently frozen ground, watter, if left to thaw, could unleash a string of deadly microbes that have laid dormant for thousands of years.
“This wrongly suggests that such occurrences are rare and that ‘zombie viruses’ are not a public health threat,” prof Claverie’s team wrote in their findings.
The scientist isolated 13 types of virus from seven ancient Siberian permafrost samples and only looked at those that infected an amoeba known as acanthamoeba.
This was for safety reasons as these bugs are believed not to be able to infect humans.
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“The biohazard associated with reviving prehistorical amoeba-infecting viruses is . . . totally negligible,” the study read.
Intussen, there are suggestions Russian scientist could accidentally unleash a new pandemic by researching viruses from permafrost-preserved remains of mammoths, woolly rhinoceros.
Die “riskant” experiment on palaeoviruses – as they’re known by – is being carried in the top-secret Vector laboratory in Novosibirsk.
Studying dead carcasses with dormant viruses is believed to be more dangerous as it’s possible the disease could spread to living animals.
Concerns of “zombie” pathogens being revived gained serious traction when a child died in an anthrax outbreak in northern Siberia in 2016.
The case – the first in the area since 1941 – was linked to a heatwave that melted permafrost and exposed an infected reindeer carcass.
Researchers as Ohio State University claimed to detected genetic material from 33 viruses in ice samples taken from the Tibetan plateau that were some 15,000 jaar oud.
It comes as an expert warned signs of a “hoofvak” virus outbreak was “on the horizon”.
Prof Mark Woolhouse, a professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Edinburgh believes ‘Disease X’ is “just around the corner”.
Last year they warned the next pandemic could be on the scale of the Black Death, which killed an estimated 75 miljoen mense.
Prof Woolhouse said a recent outbreak of Polio found in sewage in the UK that quickly mutated was a sign of the challenges ahead.
He told The Telegraph: “There’s a name for what we’re seeing at the moment in the UK and elsewhere, it’s called chatter.
“It’s a term anti-terrorist [units] use to describe the small events that might signify something more major on the horizon… infectious diseases work in much the same way.”
Scientists believe the next pandemic is likely caused by “zoonotic” diseases – when infections jump from animals to humans.
Out of the 1.67million unknown viruses on the planet up to 827,000 of these could have the ability to infect people from animals, according to the EcoHealth Alliance.
South East Asia, Southern and Central Africa, areas around the Amazon, and eastern Australia were all identified as the areas of highest risk for new diseases in a study published in Nature Communications.
And as the human population swells and moves further into animal habitats, the risk of the transmission of diseases to humans grows.
The nightmare scenario is one of these new diseases, or a strain of an older one, emerges that is both highly contagious and highly deadly – allowing it to spread quickly and kill millions before the world can take action.