Next Pandemic Viruses
The headline may sound a bit frightening, perhaps even conjectural. But the fact is that our planet has already experienced several deadly pandemics that have caused the deaths of thousands of people. The most recent of these was the coronavirus/COVID pandemic.
The next pandemic may come not from a bat or an animal, but from the world’s melting ice. That’s according to a study published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Journal of Biological Science. Ice on glaciers continues to shrink due to climate change, which will bring the viruses and bacteria frozen in them to the forefront.
There may be a ‘viral spillover’ in the world
Viral spillover is the process by which a virus acquires a new host. The host can be a human, animal, or plant – anyone. The virus infects the host and threatens to spread an epidemic. Soil genetic analyses have shown that the world is at risk of spreading new viruses due to the rapid melting of the ice.
Samples taken from Arctic ponds
Viruses exist in every corner of the world. For this study, a team of scientists took samples from Lake Hazen, the largest pond in the Arctic Circle. This freshwater lake is located in Canada. The RNA and DNA found in it were matched to viruses found so far. The scientists concluded that the viruses present in the glaciers will come out and infect us as the glaciers melt.
The Arctic was chosen for the study because the ice is melting faster here than in other snowy regions. The temperature here is higher, and the risk of spreading viruses is also high.
33 viruses found in Tibetan glacier
During the 2021 study, scientists discovered 33 viruses. They had been frozen in the ice for the past 15,000 years. Of these, 28 viruses were completely new, meaning they had never been seen before. They all came from a glacier in Tibet. This glacier melted due to global warming.