Crowd of aggressive asian zombies walking around on the spooky countryside

Scientists warn long-frozen ‘zombie viruses’ from permafrost are thawing out

Scientists say global warming could thaw out numerous unknown, long-frozen “zombie viruses” that have been trapped under the ice of a frozen lake in Russia for 50,000 years. Could those viruses unleash a new pandemic?

Thawing permafrost could unleash pandemic-inducing “zombie viruses,” scientists say

It’s been the plot of many sci-fi stories, as a dormant disease is dug up and wreaks havoc, but scientists say something similar could happen in real life soon as global warming threatens to unleash long-frozen ancient viruses.

According to new research published in a preliminary paper by scientists from the French National Centre for Scientific Research, global warming is causing permafrost – permanently frozen ground covering one-quarter of the northern hemisphere – to irreversibly thaw out, the New York Post reported.

But scientists are even more concerned about the collateral effects that come with this thawing outs: “releasing organic matter frozen for up to a million years.”

More specifically, it is releasing potentially harmful pathogens into the environment.

“Part of this organic matter also consists of revived cellular microbes (prokaryotes, unicellular eukaryotes) as well as viruses that remained dormant since prehistorical times,” the researchers wrote.

“The situation would be much more disastrous in the case of plant, animal, or human diseases caused by the revival of an ancient unknown virus,” wrote the researchers, headed by microbiologist Jean-Marie Alempic, Science Alert reported.

Scientists reviving viruses on purpose in preparatory studies

While scientists are warning of a natural thaw unleashing a viral threat, paradoxically, researchers have purposely revived 13 of these so-called “zombie viruses” from the Siberian permafrost in order to study them.

Not so ironically, as some have compared this to opening “Pandora’s box,” the oldest of the viruses in the study has been named Pandoravirus yedoma, which is estimated at 48,500 years old. The virus was discovered below the bottom of a lake in Yukechi Alas in Yakutia, Russia, while others have been found in a variety of sources, such as mammoth fur to the intestines of a Siberian wolf.

Bad news: All of the zombie viruses could unleash a deadly pandemic

The bad news, according to the scientists, is that after studying all of the live cultures from the thirteen “zombie viruses,” they deduced that all of them have the potential to be infectious, and all are a “health threat” capable of inducing worldwide pandemics.

Furthering the troubling findings, they postulate that as the ever-melting permafrost continues to receive, it has the potential to release more of these long-dormant viruses.

“It is therefore legitimate to ponder the risk of ancient viral particles remaining infectious and getting back into circulation by the thawing of ancient permafrost layers,” the researchers wrote.