As several countries around the world are now getting back to a ‘normal' life, some rather worrying news has emerged to remind us that we are far from out of the woods. With the threat of a second wave that is thought by many to arrive in September 2020, now a new virus has been discovered in China that could plunge the world back into the nightmare we have been working so hard to get out of.
A virus descended from the H1N1 strain
First, there was COVID-19, which is currently still wreaking havoc all over the world, and now there's a new virus from China that could end up becoming just as serious. This virus is genetically descended from swine flu, the H1N1 strain which was responsible for a less serious pandemic back in 2009.
This strain of the virus and its potentially devastating effects were discovered and exposed in a study published in the American scientific journal PNAS. According to this study, viruses that descend from the H1N1 strain have ‘all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans’. In their study carried out between 2011 and 2018, researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in different Chinese provinces.
This virus is rather worrying because it has a high risk of being transmitted from the animals to humans and several people who work with these animals have already been infected. The researchers behind this study want to warn the population of the potential danger and they suggest implementing a monitoring system for people who come into contact with this new virus as it could be devastating for the population.
The Head of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, James Wood, has also spoken out about the importance of staying vigilant.
‘The work comes as a salutary reminder that we are constantly at risk of a new emergence of zoonotic pathogens and that farmed animals, with which humans have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important pandemic viruses.’