A team of Chinese scientists has discovered a new variant of the swine flu virus. While ensuring that, for now, there is no reason to be alarmed, the researchers note that the G4 EA H1N1 virus has “pandemic potential”.
A study with the results of the investigation was published this Monday in the PNAS scientific journal.
THE G4 EA H1N1 is similar to the swine flu virus, which caused a pandemic in 2009, and has already infected one in 10 Chinese pig workers, writes the Observer. Chinese scientists warn that the virus has already has the ability to infect humans.
“There is no evidence that the G4 is circulating in humans, even after five years of extensive exposure to the virus. This is the key context to bear in mind, ”said Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at the University of Washington, The Guardian.
The World Health Organization (WHO) is already aware of the discovery and stresses that this serves to show that “We cannot let our guard down, we need to continue surveillance, even during the coronavirus pandemic ”.
“Right now, we are distracted by the coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses, ”said study co-author Kin-Chow Chang, BBC.
Professor James Wood, head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, also said that this study “comes as a reminder” that we are constantly at risk of a new appearance of pathogens and that farm animals can act as a source of important pandemic viruses.
In this latest study, researchers concluded that the G4 EA H1N1 virus is highly infectious, easy to grow and replicate in human cells and causes more serious symptoms than other viruses. The flu vaccine has also not shown to be sufficient to confer immunity on people.
Telmo Pina Nunes, an epidemiologist at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine of Lisbon, says that we should be aware although there is no reason to panic. “It does not imply having an immediate response, but it does imply prepare that response effectively ”, the expert told the newspaper Public.