After the global outbreak of the Coronavirus, a new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by the scientists. According to the scientists, this virus is carried by the pigs but it can infect humans as well. The researchers are worried that it could also mutate further resulting in the spread of this virus form person to person, and could trigger global outbreak. To know more about this virus, read the article below.
What are the Threats for Pandemic?
Even as the world is attempting to bring an end to the current Coronavirus pandemic. A bad new strain of influenza is found that is among the top disease threats that experts are watching for. The new flu strain that has been identified in China is similar to 2009 swine flu, but with some new changes. It hasn’t posed any big threat so far, but Prof. Kin-Chow Chang and colleagues who have been studying it, say that we should keep an eye on it.
What was the Last Pandemic Flu Virus?
The last pandemic flu that the world encountered was the swine flu outbreak of 2009. This was less deadly than initially feared, largely because many older people had some immunity to it, probably because of its similarity to other flu viruses that had circulated years before. The previous virus was called A/H1N1pdm09 that is now recovered by the annual flu vaccine to make sure people are protected.
What is this Virus Called?
The researchers calls this virus as G4 EA H1N1. According to them, it can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways. However, current flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.
How are Farmed Animals a Source of Pandemic?
According to Prof. James Wood, he said that we are constantly at the risk of new emergence of pathogens and as humans have greater contact with farmed animals than with wildlife. So, they may act as the source for important pandemic viruses.
What Researchers have to Say about this?
Prof. Kin-Chow Chang, who is currently studying this virus, told the BBC that,
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 problem but he says,
We should not ignore it.
Is this an Immediate Problem?
No, it not an immediate problem according to the researchers but it has “All the hallmarks” of being highly adapted to infect humans as its new and people could have little or no immunity toward the virus. Due to that, it needs close monitoring.
Close Monitoring to Control the Spread
The scientists write in the journal “Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences” that measures to control the virus in pigs, and the close monitoring of swine industry workers, should be implemented.
How can this Virus be Dangerous?
Although flu viruses are constantly changing which is why the flu vaccine also needs to change regularly to keep up. However, In theory, a flu pandemic could occur at any time, but they are still rare events. Pandemics can happen if a new strain emerges that can easily spread from person to person.
What Statement is Given by the Spokeswoman of WHO?
A World Health Organization spokeswoman said, Eurasian avian-like swine influenza virus are known to be circulating in the swine population in Asia and to be able to infect humans occasionally. Twice a year during the influenza vaccine composition meetings, all information on the viruses is reviewed and the need for new candidate vaccine viruses is discussed. We will carefully read the paper to understand what is new.
She further added that,
It also highlights that we cannot let down our guard on influenza; we need to be vigilant and continue surveillance even during the COVID-19 pandemic.
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