As China warns of another pandemic from pigs, WHO insists to 'not let our guard down'

WION Web Team New Delhi, India Jun 30, 2020, 03.59 PM(IST)

Pigs are seen at the Meloporc farm in Saint-Thomas de Joliette, Quebec, Canada, on June 26, 2019 Photograph:( AFP )

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The WHO also added that the issue that needs to be highlighted is the surveillance of ongoing influenza and upcoming influenza during the ongoing pandemic.

A new flu virus which has emerged among pigs in China has sparked concerns of another pandemic, while the world still reels from the COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected over 10 million people worldwide.

On Tuesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) said that they will read a new study carefully while referring to this elusive new flu.

The WHO also added that the issue that needs to be highlighted is the surveillance of ongoing influenza and upcoming influenza during the ongoing pandemic.

"Pandemic virus"

Reports suggest that the new flu virus has gained traction and is becoming more infectious by day, and needs to be monitored closely. The WHO said that the virus may become a “pandemic virus” if it is ignored.

"We will read carefully the paper to understand what is new," the WHO's Christian Lindmeier said during a briefing in Geneva, while asserting the need to collaborate on potential findings and to monitor animal populations that may be susceptible to contracting and spreading the virus.

Also read: AstraZeneca's COVID-19 vaccine's trial on pigs shows promise with two shots

"It also highlights we cannot let our guard down on influenza and need to be vigilant and continue surveillance even in the coronavirus pandemic," Lindmeier added.

The study said that there is no imminent threat, but said that health authorities need to be watchful.

"G4"

During their research, the Chinese scientists monitored viruses in pigs from 2011 to 2018, and discovered that a “G4” strain possesses the capability to trigger another pandemic, while the world is already battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This strain has “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus", the study said.

The paper was published by an American journal - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).

Also read: Swine flu strain with 'human pandemic potential' found increasingly in China

Additionally, workers in vicinity of the pigs in the farm also had a higher concentration of the virus in their bloodstream.

The researchers had added that “close monitoring in human populations, especially the workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented".

The study added that once the species barrier is crossed, and the virus spreads among people, another pandemic may be triggered.

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic also emerged in China, and reportedly spread to humans through a seafood market.

"China is following the developments in regard to this matter. We will take necessary measures to prevent the spread and outbreak of any virus," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian said on Tuesday.

The study referred to pigs as “mixing vessels” and suggested “systematic surveillance” of the issue.