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Arctic viruses could trigger new pandemics

Threat of outbreak of microbes trapped in permafrost for millennia raised by increased Siberian shipping activity.


Virologist Marion Koopmans of Erasmus MC in Rotterdam: “We don’t know which viruses are there in the permafrost, but I think there is a real risk that one is capable of causing a disease outbreak – for example, of an old form of polio. We have to assume that something like that could happen.”


“If you look at the history of epidemic outbreaks, one of the main drivers is a change in land use. Nipah virus was spread by fruit bats displaced from their habitat by humans. Similarly, monkey pox has been linked to the spread of urbanisation in Africa. And that is what we are about to see in the Arctic: a complete change in land use, and that can be dangerous, as we have seen elsewhere.”

Read the interview on the website of The Guardian:

Date: 23 January 2024