A giant virus awakens from its slumber after 30,000 years

A giant virus awakens from its slumber after 30,000 years


Scientists said that the virus, called pithovirus sibericum, does not pose a threat to humans or animals, but its return from hibernation may raise concerns about the return of other deadly viruses.


Pithovirus does not attack human or animal cells, but rather single-celled amoeba. It contains 500 genes, less than the large pandoravirus that was discovered previously, which contains approximately 2,500 genes.


The French National Center for Scientific Research, which announced the discovery, said the discovery of pithovirus “shows the incompleteness of our understanding of microscopic diversity when it comes to exploring new environments.”


The center warned that “the re-emergence of other viruses is no longer limited to science fiction films,” and this includes viruses that were thought to have been completely eradicated, such as smallpox, whose replication process is similar to the pithovirus.


Scientist Jean-Michel Claverie, one of the scientists who participated in the study, said: “This is an indication that viruses that may infect humans and animals with disease may be preserved in ancient permafrost, including those that caused widespread extermination operations in the past.”

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