As the world works to control the spread of a deadly coronavirus in China, scientists are studying unknown, 15,000-year-old viruses that have long been locked in a glacier on the northwestern Tibetan Plateau of China, according to Live Science.
The research uncovered 33 viruses, including 28 never-before-seen virus groups, giving insight to how the viruses thrive or perhaps how they might be combated if released into the environment through climate change, according to the study.
Knowledge of these potential re-released viruses could be important amid worldwide ice melt, and scientists are only scratching the surface of viruses, according to French National Centre for Scientific Research’s Chantal Abergel to Vice.
“We are very far from sampling the entire diversity of viruses on Earth,” she told Vice.
“In a worst-case scenario, this ice melt [from climate change] could release pathogens into the environment,” the researchers wrote in their study, which has not been peer-reviewed. In such an event, it’s best to know as much about these long-dormant viruses as possible, the researchers wrote.
The World Health Organization is currently weighing whether the coronavirus in China is an outbreak warranting a public health emergency of international concern, sending out a warning it might be an epidemic danger across borders.
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