There’s a new strain of swine flu in China—should we worry? 2
GA EA H1N1 is genetically descended from the swine flu of 2009. Photo by Phoenix Han on Unsplash
Culture

There’s a new strain of swine flu in China—should we worry?

2020 just won’t quit, huh. BY JAM PASCUAL
ANCX | Jul 02 2020

This year just won’t let up, will it? There’s a new strain of the swine flu going around, it comes from China, and health experts fear that it has pandemic potential.

The official name of the virus is G4 EA H1N1, and is genetically descended from the swine flu virus of 2009. Ah, 2009. When bacon was scary and pandemics were actually manageable.

Researchers discovered the virus via a study conducted from 2011 to 2018, well before coronavirus presented itself as a global issue. These researchers took 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs in slaughterhouse in 10 Chinese provinces, which allowed them to isolate the virus. And in the last three years of the study, these researchers also took 338 blood samples from workers in 15 pig farms. It was found that 10.4 percent of those workers tested positive for having antibodies for the virus. Can’t say this didn’t come out of nowhere.

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According to Healthline, the virus has “blended characteristics” of not just the 2009 swine flu but also the 1918 flu and a North American H1N1 flu strain with bird, pig, and human genes. Absolutely bonkers.

Should we worry? Let’s hit the breaks for a second. 10.4 percent of workers in China’s swine industry have already been infected by the virus, which means that yes, the virus can be transmitted from pigs to people. However, there’s no conclusive proof (yet) of people passing the virus to each other. And when asked about the virus, Dr. Anthony Fauci—whom you might know as the leading expert on infectious diseases of the United States—stated that it isn’t “an immediate threat” but is still nonetheless “something we need to keep an eye on just the way we did in 2009 with the emergence of the swine flu.” It’s hard to predict how this virus will mutate and spread, but hey, it’s not at the level of coronavirus, at least not yet.

An article published by the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences advises close monitoring, especially of people working in the meat manufacturing industry.

Look, we’ve got so much other stuff to worry about that it’s unreasonable to expect anybody to make room for this new swine flu in their thoughts. But cutting down on pork doesn’t seem like a bad idea either.