How Pandoravirus Gripped The Globe: Surviving The Walking Death

Siena Wyatt Draher, Staff Writer

In the Journalism class this week, students produced fictional pieces based on a global infection such as featured in HBO’s ongoing hit series The Last Of Us. As such, this piece is a work of fiction.


Zombie folklore has terrified humanity for hundreds of years. Ancient graves discovered in Greece revealed several bodies that had been weighed down, presumably to prevent the corpses from coming back to life. The term ‘Zombie’ is believed to have originated in Haiti, when the word applied to the afterlife of slaves. The concept of reanimating the dead has been taken seriously in some cultures and practices, notably voodoo religion, but until recently the ‘zombie’ was considered a thing of fiction. Media like ‘The Walking Dead’ and ‘28 Days Later’ explored origins for a real-life zombie apocalypse, everything from a leak from a top secret lab to a disease spread from animals. The truth is much less glamorous, and all the more terrifying.


Late last year a team of researchers discovered a set of ancient viruses in Siberia. Ice in the Northern Hemisphere is at an all-time low as a result of rising global temperatures, including loss from the thick subsoil layer of the globe called the permafrost.


The decline of the permafrost has been a concern for decades. The permafrost acts as a storage unit for plant material and subsequently holds large amounts of carbon. As the permafrost melts, that carbon is released into the atmosphere. The team had originally intended to measure the damage done to the layer and estimate its expected effect on life in the area, expecting threats of erosion and potential releases of carbon. What the team wasn’t expecting to find however, was a set of 13 ancient viruses preserved in the frost.


As bizarre as it sounds, ancient preserved viruses aren’t entirely uncommon. Traces of viral diseases from hundreds of years ago have been uncovered in several archaeological digs and excavations, however, the majority of these viruses present little danger of becoming active. All thirteen of the viruses (which originate from the same pithovirus family) uncovered in Siberia had the potential to become infectious.


It is most likely the viruses did not affect the team at the time, but became infectious later when isolated by Siberian researchers. Days after the discovery, reports were released claiming the biolab containing the Pithovirus cluster had been shut down after several employees experienced strange symptoms. The world shut down less than a week later.




The 13 viral strands uncovered in Siberia merged and formed a disease commonly referred to as the Pandoravirus or the “Walking Death”. Much about the Pandoravirus is unknown, but a report published by the American Center for Disease Control revealed the virus travels quickly through the bloodstream to the brain and spinal cord, attacking neural functions. The virus has not been shown to re-awaken the long dead, instead turning the living into a state of ‘walking death’ where speech and cognitive functions are shut down and movement is under control of the virus. It is unknown how long a host can survive under the control of Pandoravirus but it is believed the body would eventually break down on its own. It is believed the virus can survive in a deceased host for an extensive period of time.


The Pandoravirus has several similarities with other neuro-targeting viruses, most notably BSE (Mad Cow Disease) and Chronic Wasting Disease (which wiped out thousands of deer and other mammals throughout the early to late 2000’s). Like BSE and CWD, Pandoravirus attacks the brain and spinal cord, and those infected with Pandoravirus lose control of their movements. Like the other illnesses, Pandoravirus has no cure.


The Pandoravirus is believed to have spread globally via markets and food products. Animal trade between Russia and China led to a Pandoravirus outbreak that led to the lockdown of both countries, the conditions of which are both unknown. Infected product is believed to have triggered the Pandoravirus outbreak that devastated the Western Hemisphere. Claims that spread of the virus was stunted by warmer temperatures triggered mass migrations that devastated Africa, Australia, and South America. It is recommended to avoid consuming animal products as it is unclear how much contaminated product has been distributed and the extent to which the disease can be transferred from infected animals. 


Pandoravirus is spread by entry to the bloodstream. Salival exchange of the disease has not been confirmed, but caution is recommended. After infection, the disease travels to the brain and gains control over the body in a matter of hours, depending on the location of the infection site. Immediate amputation of infected limbs have yet to prove successful due to the extreme rate at which the Pandoravirus moves through the bloodstream. Once in command of a host’s functions, the virus uses them as a virtual carrier pigeon.


Viruses are living things. They have wants, and need to meet those wants.’ The report read. ‘The want of the Pandoravirus is to spread. It keeps hosts alive so they can infect as many people as possible.’ 


Initial signs of infection include fever, confusion and loss of speech and cognitive behaviors. Once the virus has spread throughout the body physical changes such as skin discoloration, bulging eyes and varicose veins occur. Complete loss of ones movements to the virus is characterized by violent twitching and spastic movements. This process has not been known to take longer than a few hours.


Other visual symptoms of infection include hair loss and flaky skin, as the virus shuts off the body’s non-vital functions. It has been theorized metabolism is slowed, but it is not known why those infected with Pandoravirus do not seem to require food or water. Once the virus has complete control of the host it will override joint and muscular systems. Hosts of the virus have been confirmed to move at speeds up to 50 mph without exhibiting signs of exhaustion or stamina loss.


If you come in contact with an individual exhibiting symptoms of Pandoravirus, hair loss, peeling, flaky skin, bulging eyes or twitching, or skin discoloration, quietly and discreetly clear the area immediately.



Animals have been proven to carry the Pandoravirus and transmit it via consumption of contaminated meat, however animals have not shown to be symptomatic. It has not been confirmed if Pandoravirus can be transmitted through other animal products, such as dairy and eggs. Humans infected with the Pandoravirus have not been known to pursue animals as targets. Regardless, consumption of wild animals is not recommended due to potentially diseased meat and blood. 



It is believed the virus keeps certain sensory functions intact to alert hosts of nearby targets. When a host has spotted a target, it attacks, attempting to bite, thus infecting, the individual. The attacks are highly viscous, but unlike ‘zombies’ found in fiction, it is not believed infected hosts have any desire to eat their targets. If their prey is too damaged they will have a shorter Pandoravirus-spreading span. Reports have shown once the disease has been spread, hosts will typically resume their search for an uninfected individual. Hyper-sensitive sight and hearing capabilities have been confirmed in Pandoravirus hosts, but smell has not yet been confirmed.



The most effective way of stopping a host is to destroy the center of the nervous system, the brain. Doing so prevents the Pandoravirous from communicating with and controlling the rest of the host’s body. It is not recommended to approach infected individuals, destruction of the nervous system is only recommended if possible from a safe distance.


 If you come in contact with a host it is recommended to discreetly get as much distance as possible. Hosts are hyper-sensitive to sound and sight and will respond immediately to any registered noise or movement.


If you or a loved one are infected with Pandoravirus, immediate destruction of the nervous system is recommended.


It is recommended to burn the deceased to prevent further spread of the Pandoravirus.


Pandoravirus has not been proven to contaminate water, however sanitizing water before consumption is recommended. Animal products should be thoroughly cooked and handled with extreme caution. Consumption of wild animals is not recommended. Plants have not been known to carry or transmit the virus. 


 Safety zones have been established by government and military organizations around the world. Information about these zones can be found in silent broadcasts on all operating television channels. Broadcasts will inform individuals to bring only essentials to designated zones and display information on silent transportation systems leading to said sites. If upon arrival at the site the area appears damaged or abandoned, proceed with extreme caution or relocate to an unpopulated area.


It has been confirmed that Pandoravirus hosts cannot swim. Hosts have limited climbing abilities and cannot operate vehicles or other machinery. Due to damage to the brain, their observational abilities are weak. They are often able to tear through obstacles but are not aware enough to move around them. There has been reported success of the use of pit traps to protect areas from infected, but keep in mind a full trap will allow for the hosts to pile up and escape.


Certain environments are believed to provide protection from infected hosts. Remote terrain including forest, snow, and desert have not been known to attract human hosts but can contain infected animals. Sensitivity to extreme temperatures has not been confirmed, but hosts have not been found to gather in harsh climates, staying centered around cities and other more populated zones. Snow has been shown to slow down hosts but snowy regions provide few natural resources. There has been reported success with survival in jungle regions, due to the vast natural resources and concealment provided by the terrain.


At this time all global transportation systems have been shut down. Travel between countries is outlawed and there is little communication between world governments.


Currently the Pandoravirus is estimated to have claimed over three hundred million lives. Several hundred thousand cases of suicide have been reported. Entire countries have been devastated, entire cities have been obliterated in attempts to stifle the spread. Any vaccine developments are unknown, no medicines have proved effective at slowing or stopping the virus.


Since the outbreak, global temperatures have begun to stabilize. Air pollution levels are at an all time low. Animal and plant populations are thriving, several species in danger of extinction have fully restored populations, including Mountain Gorillas and Orca whales. The damage mankind has done to the planet has begun to reverse. The planet is repairing itself day by day.


It is unknown how long the Pandoravirus will terrorize human populations, or how many of us will make it through the outbreak. It is possible vaccine development is underway, a cure for the Pandoravirus has not been deemed an impossibility. It is also possible humans will build up natural immunity to the illness over generations. No one can say for sure what a future for any of us will look like.


Despite everything, do not give up. Every survivor counts.