Flu virus with 'pandemic potential' found in China

Published: 30 Jun 2020   

Online Desk

A new strain of flu that has the potential to become a pandemic has been identified in China by scientists.


It emerged recently and is carried by pigs, but can infect humans, they say.


The researchers are concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person to person, and trigger a global outbreak.


While it is not an immediate problem, they say, it has "all the hallmarks" of being highly adapted to infect humans and needs close monitoring.


As it's new, people could have little or no immunity to the virus.


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 swiftly implemented.


Pandemic threat

A bad new strain of influenza is among the top disease threats that experts are watching for, even as the world attempts to bring to an end the current coronavirus pandemic.


The last pandemic flu the world encountered - the swine flu outbreak of 2009 that began in Mexico - 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.


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


The new flu strain that has been identified in China is similar to 2009 swine flu, but with some new changes.


So far, it hasn't posed a big threat, but Prof Kin-Chow Chang and colleagues who have been studying it, say it is one to keep an eye on.


The virus, which the researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the human airways.


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


Current flu vaccines do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if needed.


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."


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


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

Wari to be put under lockdown from Saturday

Wari to be put under lockdown from Saturday

Wari area of the capital will be put under lockdown ...

Sahara Khatun to be flown to Bangkok

Sahara Khatun to be flown to Bangkok

Awami League presidium member and former home minister advocate Sahara ...

Online quiz competition for vocational students: ILO

Online quiz competition for vocational students: ILO

International Labour Organization (ILO) is going to hold an online ...

Jute workers’ wages of June would be paid in next week

Jute workers’ wages of June would be paid in next week

Textiles and Jute Minister Golam Dastagir Gazi said jute workers’ ...

Bangladesh now 8th in global weekly increase in Covid-19 cases: WHO

Bangladesh now 8th in global weekly increase in Covid-19 cases: WHO

Bangladesh on Friday ranked 8th in the global weekly increase ...

40 judges infected with Covid-19

40 judges infected with Covid-19

A total of 40 judges, 136 staff of subordinate courts ...

3,114 new cases, 42 more deaths in Bangladesh

3,114 new cases, 42 more deaths in Bangladesh

The health authorities have detected 3,114 new cases in a ...

8 UP policemen shot dead in India

8 UP policemen shot dead in India

Eight policemen in Uttar Pradesh were shot dead early Friday ...