‘Black Swan’ Ancient Viruses Are Waking Up, And They’re Angry


Kay Smythe News and Commentary Writer
Font Size:

A study published in late July found that “time-travelling” pathogens are waking up, and some are capable of killing their hosts and disrupting entire ecosystems.

The study published in PLOS Computational Biology compared the thawing of permafrost to the recent “lab leak” of COVID-19 from a laboratory in Wuhan, China, as the pathogens lurking beneath the ice could pose unpredictable threats to humans, animals and our food. Although sci-fi stories and researchers have hypothesized on the potential threat of these pathogens, the study was the first to prove that they can survive, evolve, and become “exceptionally persistent and dominant” in communities they invade after thawing.

“It is the first attempt to try modeling the potential ecological effect of these kinds of time-traveling invaders from a quantitative perspective,” study co-author Giovanni Strona told LiveScience. Permafrost is known to hold pathogens, bacteria, and viruses in a state of “suspended animation,” for potentially millions of years.

An anthrax outbreak in 2016, which killed thousands of reindeer and impacted countless people was attributed to melting permafrost, LiveScience noted. (RELATED: A Blind Bulgarian Mystic Predicted The Events Of 2022 Before She Died, And They’re Eerily On-Point)

“If pathogens have been living alongside bacterial, human or animal communities for a long time, you can expect some co-evolution between the pathogens and the local community, which reduces the risk that pathogens pose to ecosystems,” Strona continued. “But when you have a time-traveling invader, you clearly have the introduction of novel elements of risk.”

Strona and his team found that 1% of viral pathogens were “black swans,” capable of potentially horrific, civilization-ending events. Although the probability of that happening is low, it definitely isn’t zero.