Chinese researchers have discovered a new type of swine flu that can infect humans and has the potential to cause a future pandemic, according to a study released on Monday,
The scientists have cautioned that the virus does not pose an immediate global health threat.
The researchers have named the disease G4 virus, which recently emerged, is carried by pigs and but can infect humans.
The new virus is said to be genetically descended from the H1N1 swine flu that caused a pandemic in 2009, but with some new changes.
According to the study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), G4 now shows “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus”.
The scientists have stressed that the measures to control the virus in pigs, and the close monitoring of swine industry workers, should be swiftly implemented.
Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University’s public health school, in a series of tweets has warned the public not to “freak out.”
So the bottom line is that our understanding of what is a potential pandemic influenza strain is limited. Sure, this virus meets a lot of the basic criteria but it's not for sure going to cause a hypothetical 2020 flu pandemic, or even be a dominant strain in humans.— Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) June 29, 2020