Researchers Find New Strain Of Flu In China With 'Pandemic Potential'

New flu with pandemic potential found in China by scientists

Coronavirus is in full swing, but could a new pandemic be looming?

Among those viruses, researchers found a "G4" strain of H1N1 that has "all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus". These reports stem from a June 29 scientific paper in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, testified Tuesday that an emerging virus found in pigs in China shares traits with the 2009 Swine Flu and 1918 Pandemic Flu, and US public health officials are monitoring the disease.

However, while G4 certainly has the capability of being our next pandemic, other scientists have said it had yet to reach that stage - and may never.

The majority were of a new kind that has been dominant among pigs since 2016.

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"Pig farming is a massive industry in China and pigs can be important hosts from which novel influenza viruses may emerge", said James Wood, Head of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, warned on Tuesday that the country should pay more attention to a new strain of swine flu spreading in China, to avoid repeating the scenario of how Washington has handled the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 10 per cent of swine farmers have antibodies.

The last pandemic that humanity faced before the current wave of coronavirus was swine flu in 2009, which started in Mexico. By distinction, the fatality charge of the 1918 flu pandemic was about two.five per cent of its victims. Viruses, which are composed primarily of short bits of genetic material, can sometimes combine with other viruses and mix genetic material between them.

Chinese researchers analyzed 30,000 swabs collected from pigs at slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces from 2011 to 2018.

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Primarily, researchers are anxious that with the prevalence of the virus in pigs since 2016, the virus can potentially mutate in humans to become transmissible as more people get infected by the swine. However, there is no evidence yet that it can be passed from human to human - the scientists' main worry.

It claimed that the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009 was predicted to infect 600 million people but was only contracted by 60 million. Such adaptations could lead to the ability for human-to-human transfer of the virus either through direct contact or airborne transmission. "We would be just as vulnerable to G4 as we are now to the COVID-19 virus".

Tests revealed that G4 has already infected humans in China's Hebei and Shandong provinces, which have large swine populations.

Moreover, the team noted that this virus is "distinct from current human influenza vaccine strains, indicating that preexisting immunity derived from the present human seasonal influenza vaccines can not provide protection".

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"We will read carefully the paper to understand what is new", the WHO's Christian Lindmeier told a Geneva briefing, saying it was important to collaborate on findings and keep tabs on animal populations.

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