New Flu Virus With "Pandemic Potential" Emerges In China
By Tyler Durden – Zero Hedge (*)
Roughly half a
million Chinese living in Hebei Province (not Hubei, Hebei), a province in
northern China that surrounds Beijing (which operates as an independent
‘national city’) are under lockdown, but in an effort to try to convey just how
prepared Chinese public health officials are for another outbreak (keep in
mind, the WHO’s “independent” delegation of investigators is expected
to arrive in China next week) they’ve warned every English-language media
outlet that will listen that officials have identified another potentially
pandemic-quality flu pathogen.
According to the BBC, Chinese scientists
have identified a new strain of flu that has “the potential to become a
pandemic”. It emerged recently in China’s already-dwindling pig
population, but scientists say it can infect humans, which would make it
similar to the H1N1 virus that spread across Asia and made it all the way to
North America in a short-lived pandemic.
Among other factors,
scientists have credited the natural human immunity to flu viruses, built up in
elderly people over decades, for stopping H1N1 from becoming the global
pandemic that many scientists feared. In fact, the extremely dire warnings
about that virus, which never came to pass, partially contributed – one could
argue – to the complacent attitude in the US toward viruses spreading from
For those who haven’t been paying attention, China is only just starting to recover from a devastating
outbreak of “pig ebola” – a particularly deadly strain of swine flu –
that wiped out ~1/3rd of China’s pig population.
The team of
scientists published their findings in a medical journal where they could be
sure that science and health-care reporters would find it.
The researchers are
concerned that it could mutate further so that it can spread easily from person
to person, and trigger a global outbreak.
While it is not an
immediate problem, they say, it has “all the hallmarks” of being
highly adapted to infect humans and needs close monitoring.
As it’s new, people
could have little or no immunity to the virus.
The scientists write
in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that
measures to control the virus in pigs, and the close monitoring of swine
industry workers, should be swiftly implemented.
But how worried
should we be? The third-party ‘expert’ quoted by the BBC explained that the
global medical community must be ever-vigilant toward new viral threats. Though
since this virus hasn’t yet infected humans, it would seem pretty early in the
process to get all hysterical.
The virus, which the
researchers call G4 EA H1N1, can grow and multiply in the cells that line the
They found evidence
of recent infection in people who worked in abattoirs and the swine industry in
China when they looked at data from 2011 to 2018.
Current flu vaccines
do not appear to protect against it, although they could be adapted to do so if
Prof Kin-Chow Chang,
who works at 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.”
While this new virus
is not an immediate problem, he says: “We should not ignore it.”
In theory, a flu
pandemic could occur at any time, but they are still rare events. Pandemics
happen if a new strain emerges that can easily spread from person to person.
Although flu viruses
are constantly changing – which is why the flu vaccine also needs to change
regularly to keep up – they do not usually go pandemic.
Prof James Wood, head
of the Department of Veterinary Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said
the work “comes as a salutary reminder” that we are constantly at
risk of new emergence of pathogens, and that farmed animals, with which humans
have greater contact than with wildlife, may act as the source for important
Shortly after the
western press picked up on the latest pig influenza, the WHO chimed in and
warned that we must “never let our guard down” when it comes to the
risk posed by influenza.
WHO SPOKESMAN SAYS CHINA STUDY ON
NEW VIRUS IN PIGS SHOWS “WE CANNOT LET OUT GUARD DOWN” ON INFLUENZA
DURING COVID-19 PANDEMIC
But before we get
carried away speculating about this new pandemic, how about we first figure out
how things went so badly wrong during the early days of the last one?
*Zero Hedge in-house content is posted under the
pseudonym “Tyler Durden”, however, the founder and main editor was identified
Ivandjiiski, Bulgarian born,
U.S.–based, former investment banker and capital markets trader, and currently
financial blogger, who founded the website Zero Hedge in January
2009, and remains its main publisher and editor.