A new discovery has raised a lot of serious questions in the science world. Scientists have found a new giant virus they named “Pithovirus Sibericum” in the permafrost core of Siberia and have managed to bring it back to life. Moreover, the virus was still capable of causing an infection after so many thousands of years. The good news is that the 30,000 year old virus can only infect amoebas and it seems that is not a threat to human beings.
The scary thing about the new found virus is its capacity to still be infectious after so such a long time and scientists take this as a warning. Jean-Michel Claverie from the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Aix-Marseille University in France has published a recent study with his colleagues about the new virus. The paper was published on Monday saying that: “The revival of such an ancestral amoeba infecting virus … suggests that the thawing of permafrost either from global warming or industrial exploitation of circumpolar regions might not be exempt from future threats to human or animal health.”
The first giant viruses were first discovered ten years ago and are so big that they can be seen under a light microscope in comparison with other forms of viruses. Prior to the recent discovered virus, only two other families of viruses were known to the scientists and both can infect amoebas.
30,000 year old virus found in Siberia can still be infectious
The scientists went to Siberia to collect a piece of the millenniums old permafrost for further studies. In pursuance of finding other giant forms of viruses they used as bait a type of amoeba that is known to get infected with giant viruses. After exposing the amoebas to the permafrost sample, they got infected with another unknown virus. The new virus has similar traits with the other two discovered giant viruses.
The scientists said that searching for viruses that infect the amoeba in the permafrost is a safe and inexpensive way to assess the threats posed by the pathogens that can get out of the frozen ground because of the global warming and some industrial activities like drilling or mining.
The 30,000 year old virus is still under research and further studies will follow.