The T-Virus: the (in)famous virus that started it all. Resident Evil is a beloved series that started most horror game fanatics’ love of spook-‘ems. Some even revere the series as the father of survival horror games. Today we’re starting to go over the history, background, and different strains of the T-Virus! Now let’s put on our lab coats, throw away our morals and ethics and dive in.
The T-Virus, better know by its real name, the Tyrant Virus, is a strain of Progenitor Virus, which is a family of RNA virus. The T-Virus was engineered by Umbrella Pharmaceuticals in the late 60s as a bio-weapon meant to generate a large amount of revenue and replace the need for armies. The money would eventually be funneled into Project W (The Wesker Project).
When developing the virus, two goals were at the forefront: a high infection rate and a 100% mortality rate. Unfortunately for Umbrella, this proved to be an exercise in futility, as the virus would kill too fast for it to properly spread. In ’78, having been unable to achieve their goal, they decided to shift it to mutate the host instead. Now it was becoming the T-Virus we know today. It would increase a host’s strength, keep them alive despite organs failing or brain damage, increase aggression, and cause cannabalistic tendencies.
By ‘81 they discovered that 10% of the population was naturally immune, or at minimum an asymptomatic carrier. Now Umbrella’s next goal was to take that 10% down to 0%. This project was headed by William Birkin at the Arklay Mountain Laboratory. They would start using animals as test subjects to create the first of Umbrella’s bio-weapons. The first success in this genetic testing would be the Hunter A (Alpha).
Most of this research would culminate in a more intelligent B.O.W. (bio-organic weapon), which we know as Tyrants. After the fall of Umbrella in the early 2000s, the research would become available to other companies, along with the means to finalize development.
Now, I’ve already talked about the Spencer Project in my Progenitor Virus article. So let’s go over some of the other projects that the T-Virus was used in.
The Arklay Lab
Now we’ll talk about the most well-known project, which is the Marcus-Birkin project. With a huge breakthrough, January 13th, 1978 was the day they started using the term “T-Virus.” It was created by splicing the viral genome with annelid genes. Unlike the Progenitor Virus, which killed the infected, this new strain would cause aggression, cannibalistic tendencies, a decrease in intelligence, and necrosis.
In ‘78, the research would be stolen by Dr. Birkin. He was offered a senior position at the Arklay Lab on the condition of delivering the research to Spencer’s team. In that same year, after his transfer in the summer, Birkin would look into splicing the virus further. He planned on splicing Ebola RNA into the T-Virus genome. He believed it would make the virus easily spreadable while keeping the victims “alive.” However, because about 10% of people wouldn’t become zombified, Spencer wasn’t pleased. This wasn’t aggressive enough to guarantee a 100% success rate. This led them to bond a human egg with reptile DNA, creating the first Hunter in ‘81.
This led to the discovery that the virus can recombine with other species rather easily. Umbrella would then start mass producing the virus to send to other research facilities for new B.O.W. development.
Phase 3 of this research would be the Tyrants. The Tyrant Project would begin in ‘88. This would eventually lead to the Epsilon Strain. In ‘98 this new virus would bring about a new wave of mutations, such as Crimson Heads and Lickers.
Many diseases have been linked to the T-Virus. These would include the Cannibal disease or Zombie disease and the Progenitor disease, a fatal disease caused by early strands of the Progenitor and T-Virus strands. The Cannibal disease could be combated with antiretrovirals if caught early enough.
On rare occasions, some people could even gain “super powers”. This would require them to have unique genetic criteria. In ‘88, it was a 1-in-10-million chance that a person would fit those criteria. The most well-known person to get powers would be Albert Wesker, although the strain used would be designed to almost guarantee that mutation. Now the virus has many ways to cause infection. These include injection, water consumption, fluidic transmission (i.e. bites, cuts) and airborne transmission.
Thanks for joining me here at Vibe! I’ll see you in part 2 where we’ll be talking about the T-Virus variants and cure!