SARS-CoV-2, the etiological agent of the respiratory disease COVID-19, has turned our civilization upside down. It has spread in the blink of an eye across the globe. But the most terrifying thing is the death toll. Every day, thousands of people continue to swell the numbers. However, this virus is not one of the most lethal, even compared to other coronaviruses.
There are far worse viruses and yet they are completely unknown to most. Many epidemiologists and virologists agree that the most dangerous virus in the world is the MARV or Marburgvirus. It is so called because it was first identified in 1967 in the city of Marburg, Germany. It is another zoonosis. In fact, the Marburgvirus outbreak began in a biological laboratory, where workers became infected by working with infected primates. Fruit bats (Rousettus sp.) would be their natural hosts. It is a Filovirus, like the Ebola virus, and can be 10 times larger than the new coronavirus.
Its average mortality rate is brutal: 50%, although there are strains that reach 88%. The disease is very painful and traumatic. It can cause internal bleeding with intense fevers and is capable of invading almost any cell type, from nerve cells to the leukocytes of the immune system. It is transmitted from person to person through contaminated body fluids and secretions.
Did you know that there is an artificial strain ready to be used as a biological weapon? It is even more lethal than the original strain and was manufactured by the Soviets under the Biopreparat biological weapons programme. It is known as “variant U” after the scientist Nikolai Ustinov, who was accidentally infected and eventually died. From his body, the above-mentioned strain, that mutated inside him, was extracted. Some of his colleagues told how Ustinov even sweated blood.