Second pandemic fears as new virus emerges in China

Modesto Morganelli
Luglio 1, 2020

Using a trove of data collected from pigs in China, along with animal experiments and epidemiological observations, the researchers concluded that a variant of the virus responsible for the 2009 swine flu pandemic is increasingly prevalent in pigs and can be transferred to humans.

The new influenza strain identified recently, called G4 EA H1N1, could be one of those, researchers say. "Will this one do it?"

An emerging virus discovered in pigs in China has traits similar to the 2009 swine flu and 1918 Spanish flu, Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of the White House coronavirus task force, told a Senate committee on June 30.

During several studies, scientists discovered G4 was highly infectious, caused more serious symptoms in ferrets compared to other viruses and were able to replicate fast in human cells.

The study also noted that humans are not protected from the G4 virus by the immunity offered by other human influenza vaccine strains, indicating that there is no preexisting population immunity to the virus.

Health experts said the flu virus does not present an immediate threat to humans, however. "We need to do something about that and we need to do it very quickly". But we must not lose sight of other potentially risky viruses. "G4 virus has shown a sharp increase since 2016, and is the predominant genotype in circulation in pigs detected across at least 10 provinces", they write.

Their peer-reviewed study, published this week in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, concluded that humans do not have immunity to the swine-flu strain, which the authors labeled G4 EA H1N1.

Influenza viruses frequently jump from pigs to humans, but most do not then transmit between humans. "We will take all necessary measures to prevent the spread and outbreak of any virus", chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said. And about 510,000 people have died from COVID-19, the disease caused by the virus.

The BAI said the community quarantine has helped in containing the spread of the disease as cases declined from 60 cases to 20 cases per million pigs. But there's no evidence cited that these viruses have spilled out into the general public, suggesting that they're only spreading from animals to humans, not humans to humans.

The agriculture department also assured that the country is still free from this new strain since it does not import pork and pork products from China.

In addition to stepping up surveillance, Sun says it makes sense to develop a vaccine against G4 for both pigs and humans.

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