RESEARCHERS in China found a new strain of flu virus that could potentially trigger another pandemic. What does it mean?
A strain of swine flu found in pigs that could adapt and potentially spread amongst humans was found based on study published in the peer-reviewed scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Science (PNAS)
on Monday (29 June).
The virus, which researchers call G4 EA H1NI, was detected by analysing 30,000 nasal swabs taken from pigs at slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces from 2011 to 2018.
The new flu strain has been described to be a modified version of the previous H1N1 virus from the 2009 swine flu pandemic that was believed to have killed more than 200,000 people worldwide. Why should we care?
While the world’s attention is shifted to dealing with the current COVID-19 pandemic, researchers are concerned that the new strain flu could potentially pose as a global threat.
According to their analysis of blood tests which showed up antibodies created by exposure to the virus, 10.4 percent of swine workers had already been infected.
As many as 4.4 per cent of the general population was also found to have been exposed.
Hence, there are evidences that the virus is capable of being passed from animals to humans.
The main worry is the ability for it to be passed from human to human although no evidence has yet to be found to confirm this.
“G4 viruses have all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus,” wrote the researchers from the China Agricultural University.
While the risk of it developing into a full-on pandemic is currently low, the researchers emphasized on the importance of controlling the prevailing G4 EA H1N1 viruses in pigs and also in human populations, especially for the workers in the swine industry.
As the virus is new, current flu vaccines aren’t able to protect us against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.