China strikes again: New swine virus with huge human pandemic potential found
The discovery has left scientists and health officials concerned. The new strain of influenza was recently discovered in pigs that has the potential to infect humans. According to researchers, a number of workers from Chinese abattoirs and the swine industry exhibited signs of infection.
The virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways. They found evidence of recent infection starting in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.
Current flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.
The new virus is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain, which had caused a pandemic in 2009. Various test results have shown 10.4 per cent of swine workers and up to 4.4 per cent of general population may have already been exposed to the new virus.
The G4 EA H1N1 possesses “all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans”, scientists said at Chinese universities and China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention.
G4 was observed to be highly infectious, replicating in human cells and causing more serious symptoms in ferrets than other viruses.
Tests also showed that any immunity humans gain from exposure to seasonal flu does not provide protection from G4.
Meanwhile, the head of the World Health Organization has warned that the coronavirus pandemic is not even close to being over. ■