Chinese researchers have discovered a new type of swine flu,the G4 virus, that can infect humans and has the potential to cause a future pandemic,according to a study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
The virus is genetically descended from the H1N1 swine flu that caused a pandemic in 2009 killing an estimated 151,700 to 575,400 people globally. After the pandemic, the H1N1 virus in humans spread back into pigs around the world, and the genes mixed into new combinations — creating new viruses like G4.
Further tests showed that G4 can infect humans by binding to our cells and receptors, and it can replicate quickly inside our airway cells.People who have received seasonal flue vaccines won’t be immune to it,despite it holding H1N1 genes.
However,some scientists claim that the virus won’t pose a threat. Dr. Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at Columbia University’s public health school, assured the public that they had nothing to worry about in a twitter post.
“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.”
…they tested ~350 people. It's hard to say if larger populations don't have some immune cross-reactivity that could potentially mitigate disease severity or transmissibility. Right NOW, this virus doesn't appear to be any more severe than any other H1N1 strain.
— Dr. Angela Rasmussen (@angie_rasmussen) June 29, 2020
The virus is capable of infecting humans, with two zoonotic cases briefly mentioned in the paper. Neither resulted in human-to-human transmission. pic.twitter.com/9BqqkV6kqM
— Carl T. Bergstrom (@CT_Bergstrom) June 29, 2020