China detects new respiratory virus with ‘great potential’ to become a pandemic

A new virus is emerging in Chinese scientific studies, catalogued as another “potential pandemic” respiratory virus.

The virus would mainly be transmitted through the breeding and consumption of pigs.

Even with WHO’s statements that “the pandemic is not close to over”, another virus has been found that is just as dangerous as the current one.

Infectious disease experts in China found strains of influenza in Chinese pigs, which have the ability to jump to humans, according to the Science website.

Procedures of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences conducted a study explaining that “strains, when they massively infect a single pig, easily exchange genes” leading to a process of “rearrangement.” This virus would be called G4.

This is a combination of three generations of the same virus:

  1. Similar strains in European and Asian birds
  2. H1N1 strains causing the 2009 pandemic.
  3. U.S. H1N1 combining avian, human and swine flu.

“The G4 variant is of particular concern because its core is an avian influenza virus, to which humans have no immunity, with fragments of mixed mammalian strains,” the study summarizes.

“It appears that this is a swine flu virus that is about to emerge in humans. Clearly this situation needs to be monitored very closely,” said Edward Holmes, a biologist at the University of Sydney.

Teams from China’s Agricultural University took swab samples from several pigs for analysis, which revealed that 179 of them had swine flu. “The G4 virus has shown a strong increase since 2016, and is the predominant genotype circulating in pigs detected in at least 10 provinces,” the research team revealed.

Surveillance for G4 genes is currently active because of its rapid adaptation as a human-to-human virus.

China has the largest pig farms in the world with 500 million pigs.

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