Chinese researchers have expressed concern in a new study about the presence of a certain swine influenza virus in many of the pigs examined. A spokesman for the Chinese government was committed to minimizing the risk.
China, the first country to be affected by Covid-19, discovered in the country a new strain of the swine flu virus that has the potential to cause a new pandemic.
Highly adaptable to infect humans
According to a study published on 29 June 2020 in the American journal PNAS, researchers from Chinese universities and the Center for Disease Prevention and Control in China have discovered a strain of the swine flu virus that “has all the essential characteristics that demonstrate a high degree of adaptability to human contamination”. The virus is exactly called G4 EA H1N1 and is genetically derived from the H1N1 strain that caused a previous pandemic in 2009. According to the authors of the study, this virus can bind to human-type cell receptors, replicates perfectly in epithelial cells of the respiratory tract, and an experiment with ferrets has shown that it is highly transmissible. NB. The Spanish flu was caused by an H1N1 virus with genes of avian origin while the current virus is derived from pigs.
A sample too small for a clear conclusion
Asked about this, a Chinese diplomacy spokesman, Zhao Lijian, trivialized the danger on 1 July and assured that his country “would continue to monitor the disease, warn if necessary and treat it in good time”. “The experts concluded that the sample size quoted in the report is small and not representative,” said Zhao. Indeed, Martha Nelson of Fogarty International Center in the US said in an interview with Science magazine that while the discovery of the potential danger of this virus is interesting, “it is difficult to know whether its spread is a growing problem given the relatively small sample size” when there are 500 million pigs in China. There is currently no evidence that G4 EA H1N1 can be transmitted from human to human.