Second pandemic fears as new virus emerges in China

Dr Anthony Fauci director of the National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases testifies during a Senate Health Education Labor and Pensions Committee hearing on Capitol Hill in Washington U.S

Chinese scientists have identified a new strain of influenza virus that can infect humans, according to a study published Monday (June 29) in the US science journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). In China, researchers found that more than 10% of people who worked on pig farms tested positive for the virus between 2016-2018.

Chinese scientists are now pleading for authorities to "urgently implement" measures to prevent the virus from spreading.

On Monday, Fauci also warned that the United States could see a surge in COVID-19 infections, up to 100,000 new cases per day, if the nation does not slow the ongoing virus outbreak.

The researchers expressed concern about a virus they called "G4". Pressure is now on to protect people who work with animals like pigs, with another study finding through antibody tests that more than one in 10 swine workers had already been infected. If further investigations reveal that G4 is indeed a communicable disease between humans, it has the potential to spread to the wider population via those working in such industries.

The study also focused on the possibility of viruses crossing the species barrier into humans, particularly in densely populated regions in China, where millions live in close proximity to farms, breeding facilities, slaughterhouses and wet markets. This new strain is called G4 EA H1N1, and it can grow and multiply in the cells lining the human airways. "There's no evidence that G4 is circulating in humans, despite five years of extensive exposure", said a biologist at the University of Washington, Carl Bergstrom, on Twitter, "That's the key context to keep in mind". According to the World Health Organization, most cases were mild, but "globally it is estimated that the 2009 pandemic caused between 100,000-400,000 deaths in the first year alone".

On June 30, 2020, several news outlets, including BBC News, reported on a new variant of the H1N1 swine flu that "has the potential to become a pandemic".

Prof Kin-Chow Chang, wey dey work for Nottingham University for United Kingdom, tell BBC: "Right now we dey distracted wit coronavirus and rightly so".

"Clearly this situation needs to be monitored very closely".

It added that a meeting with Philippine Inter-Agency Committee on Zoonoses will be held this week to come up with a framework in managing emerging diseases that affect animals and humans.

"We need to be vigilant about other infectious disease threats even as COVID is going on because viruses have no interest in whether we're already having another pandemic".



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