Amid the coronavirus pandemic, scientists in China have identified a new strain of flu which has the potential to become a pandemic, according to reports.
The virus, called G4 EA H1N1, is carried by pigs but can infect humans, scientists said in a new research paper.
And as it’s a new strain, humans are likely to have little or no immunity – meaning the virus needs close monitoring.
Prof Kin-Chow Chang, of 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.”
The paper said: “G4 viruses [which this virus is one of] have all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus. Of concern is that swine workers show elevated seroprevalence for G4 virus.”
Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the researchers said that the new strain, called G4 EA H1N1, hasn’t yet had a big impact.
There is evidence that workers in local abattoirs and people in other jobs that have contact with pigs have contracted the virus, they added.
Flu vaccines currently in use do not protect against the new strain, but could possibly be adapted, they said.
The scientists recommended that measures to control the virus and closely measure local populations should be brought in swiftly.
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