Study on new swine flu ‘not representative’, says China

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on July 02, 2020

China on Wednesday said that the study on a new type of swine flu that can infect humans was “not representative” as the sample size of the test was small.

“According to what we have learned from the competent authority, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA), the virus named G4 in the relevant article is an H1N1 subtype which is a common cause of seasonal flu and swine flu,” said foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian at a press briefing.

“Experts believe the conclusion of that article is not representative as the number of the test samples is not large enough. The competent authorities and experts will enhance monitoring, issue warnings in a timely manner and properly handle the situation,” he added, downplaying the study.

Pandemic potential

A new study published in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences stated that researchers had found a new type of swine flu with “pandemic potential” that could infect humans.

Chinese researchers based at several institutions, including Shandong Agricultural University and the Chinese National Influenza Center, had found a new virus named G4 while studying pigs.

Researchers had collected around 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouses in 10 Chinese provinces. They had then isolated 179 swine flu viruses from the samples collected from 2011 to 2018. The new kind of virus, G4 was dominant among pigs, especially since 2016, CNN reported.

G4 was observed to be highly infectious, replicating in human cells, and causing more severe symptoms in ferrets than other viruses, the AFP report added.

The G4 virus is a descendant of the H1N1 that had caused the swine flu pandemic in 2009. G4 now shows “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus,” the study said.

Published on July 02, 2020

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