Is a new pandemic looming?: A frightening discovery in the ice! Researchers discover 28 ancient viruses

Dozens of new viruses previously unknown to science have been discovered frozen in a glacier in Tibet that formed up to 15,000 years ago. Could that be dangerous for us today?

Dozens of new viruses have been discovered frozen in a glacier in Tibet.
BILD: Photo Alliance / dpa

Ohio State University researchers took two glaciers from the Julia Julia, a glacier in Tibet, with them to their lab and discovered viruses that likely lived in soil or plants up until then — 28 of which are not yet known scientifically.

Researchers discover ancient viruses in glaciers

The team, who published their exciting discovery in the journal Microbiome, discovered a total of 33 viruses and said the results of their investigations could help shed light on how viruses evolve over time. Professor Chi Bingzhong of Ohio State said that these glaciers formed gradually, and along with dust and gases, many viruses were deposited in this ice.

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In their report, the scientists said that glaciers in western China are by no means well explored. Their goal is to use today’s information to capture past life worlds. This also includes viruses. The ice samples examined were from 2015, but originally formed on the top of the glacier thousands of years ago. Every year the ice there accumulates in new layers, everything that is on the surface is closed and protected from external pollution.

Discovery of new viruses: how dangerous are they to us?

The viruses, previously unknown to researchers, appear to have survived because they have adapted so well to harsh conditions — while ice may have helped preserve them, their natural adaptations also made a difference. To allay any concerns that these new viruses could worsen the plight of the pandemic in the past year and a half, researchers quickly suggested that these viruses may have originated in plants or soil, rather than humans or animal hosts.

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