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New virus that has potential to turn into pandemic found in China

Speed News Desk | Updated on: 30 June 2020, 14:44 IST

As per reports in BBC, a new type of virus that has the prospect to turn into a pandemic has been found in China by scientists. It came to the fore recently and is carried by pigs, but can spread disease to humans, they say.

The researchers are perturbed that it could evolve further so that it can proliferate without difficulty from person to person, and stimulate a global outbreak.

Although it is not an urgent source of trouble, they say, it has all the characteristics of becoming highly adapted to transmit infection to humans and needs close monitoring.

Since its new, people could have less or no immunity to the pathogen.

The scientists write in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that means to curb the virus in pigs, and the close monitoring of swine industry workers, should be quickly enforced.

The bad new variety of influenza is one of the top disease threat that experts are watching for, just as the world embark on a journey to end the current coronavirus pandemic.

The previous pandemic the world came up against - the swine flu outbreak of 2009 that originated in Mexico - was less dangerous than initially feared, largely for the reason that many older people had some immunity to it, most likely due to its similarity to other flu viruses that had circulated years before.

That virus, so called A/H1N1pdm09, is now covered by the annual flu vaccine to make sure people are safe.

The new flu veriety that has been discovered in China is much the same as 2009 swine flu, but with some new mutations.

Up to this point, it has not posed a big risk, however, Professor Kin-Chow Chang and colleagues who have been examining it, say it is one to keep an eye on.

The virus, which the researchers dub G4 EA H1N1, can grow and increase exponentially in the cells that line the human airways.

They found proof of recent infection starting in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in China.

Current flu vaccines do not seem to shield against it, although they could be altered to do so if called for.

Prof Kin-Chow Chang, who works at Nottingham University in the UK, told the BBC: "Right now we are distracted with coronavirus and rightly so. But we must not lose sight of potentially dangerous new viruses."

Although this new virus is not an immediate issue, he says: "We should not ignore it."

Prof James Wood, Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said the work "comes as a salutary reminder" that we are always at risk of new emergence of virus, and that farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for pandemic viruses.

Also Read: Indian newspapers, websites not accessible in China

First published: 30 June 2020, 14:28 IST