Inside former bioweapons lab where scientists work to revive ancient viruses that killed mammoths, ‘pandemic risk’

EXPERTS fear Russian scientists are risking another pandemic as they work to revive ancient viruses that wiped out mammoths.

Tinkerers at the former bioweapons laboratory in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk want to awaken infections that have been dormant for up to 400,000 years.

Russian scientists want to revive ancient viruses trapped in Ice Age animals

5

Russian scientists want to revive ancient viruses trapped in Ice Age animalsCredit: Alamy
They examine the frozen remains of extinct animals, including mammoths and woolly rhinos

5

They examine the frozen remains of extinct animals, including mammoths and woolly rhinosPhoto credit: Reuters
However, experts fear that research at the Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology could lead to another pandemic

5

However, experts fear that research at the Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology could lead to another pandemicPhoto credit: Reuters

The “risky” research at the Vector State Research Center of Virology and Biotechnology aims to understand how viruses evolve.

The Russian team is examining the remains of Ice Age animals like mammoths and woolly rhinos that used to roam the country.

This has raised the first red flag – as examining dead carcasses with dormant viruses is seen as extremely dangerous given the potential for the disease to spread to live animals.

The creatures’ corpses were almost perfectly preserved by the sub-zero temperatures in the Yakutia region, where the mercury can plummet to a jagged -55C.

It’s the same place where French scientists recently resurrected a “zombie virus” trapped under a frozen lake for 50,000 years.

Medical experts from the University of Aix-Marseille discovered what is believed to be the oldest ‘living’ virus in November – suggesting that Vector is now trying to compete with them.

Russian researchers are also hoping to identify archaic viruses — also called paleoviruses — trapped in Ice Age animals and revive them.

However, experts have raised concerns about Vector’s research amid a series of catastrophic failures at the high-security lab.

A series of bizarre incidents – with one injured and even one dead – have plagued the facility over the past two decades.

Experts around the world fear similar slip-ups while the new research is being conducted could trigger another catastrophic pandemic.

One warned that the prehistoric viruses Russia is toying with were toying with the idea that extinct Ice Age animals could infect humans.

Despite being inspected every two years by the World Health Organization in line with all high-security disease labs, there is a lack of confidence in Vector’s vigilance.

Professor Jean-Michel Claverie, from the National Center for Scientific Research at the University of Aix-Marseille, told The Times: “Vector research is very, very risky.

“Our immune system has never encountered this type of virus. Some of them could be 200,000 or even 400,000 years old.

“I wouldn’t be very confident that everything is up to date.”

The idea that they’re escaping the former Soviet biological weapons laboratory isn’t too far-fetched either, after a similar scare in 2019.

A gas explosion and subsequent fire tore through Vector in September 2019 – where the world’s most contagious viruses are stored.

Highly deadly diseases such as bubonic plague, anthrax and ebola are hidden in the research center.

It is also one of only two places in the world where smallpox is stored.

A worker suffered third-degree burns from the blast, which caused windows to shatter at the heavily guarded facility.

Vector research is very, very risky. Our immune system has never encountered this type of virus.

Professor Jean Michel Claverie

Despite the suspected risk to the public and fears of biological contamination, the lab downplayed concerns.

Vector insisted that “no work with biological materials took place” prior to the powerful fire.

It comes after another harrowing incident in May 2004, in which a researcher died after accidentally pricking herself with a needle containing the Ebola virus.

Antonina Presnyakova, 46, was working on a vaccine against the disease when the needle pierced two layers of gloves.

Eyebrows were raised after Vector only reported the deadly debacle to the World Health Organization weeks later.

However, during its last inspection of the facility in 2019, the WHO found no significant concerns.

But they weren’t able to screen scientists doing hands-on work because Vector was closed for “scheduled maintenance.”

The former bioweapons lab’s dodgy reputation has only heightened concerns about its new research, which began last year.

Communications between Western and Russian scientists dried up after Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine in February.

And as the world continues to overcome the ordeal of Covid, many believe old viruses are best left alone.

Biosecurity expert at King’s College London, Filippa Lentzos, explained that even the most secure facilities can be breached.

She said: “Many of us who analyze and track what we do are not convinced that the potential benefits lying in the distant future necessarily outweigh the very real risks of the present.

“Even with generally safe practices, accidents can still happen.”

Haunting Similarities Between JonBenét Ramsey And The Rape Case Exposed By Dad
Kardashian fans are

Vector was founded in 1974 as a closed institute for research into vaccines and “defense against bacteriological and biological weapons”.

In Soviet times, the lab was known for its interest in biological warfare.

The top-secret former bioweapons laboratory has been plagued by bugs for the past two decades

5

The top-secret former bioweapons laboratory has been plagued by bugs for the past two decadesCredit: Alamy
Experts from around the world have warned researchers not to take a huge risk

5

Experts from around the world have warned researchers not to take a huge riskPhoto credit: Reuters

https://www.the-sun.com/news/6939227/former-bioweapons-lab-reviving-ancient-viruses-risk-pandemic/ Inside former bioweapons lab where scientists work to revive ancient viruses that killed mammoths, ‘pandemic risk’

DevanCole

Daily Nation Today is an automatic aggregator of the all world’s media. In each content, the hyperlink to the primary source is specified. All trademarks belong to their rightful owners, all materials to their authors. If you are the owner of the content and do not want us to publish your materials, please contact us by email – admin@dailynationtoday.com. The content will be deleted within 24 hours.

Related Articles

Back to top button