The European Commission said on Wednesday that a new virus linked to pigs and identified in a study “poses no danger to health,” and said the European Union (EU) “does not import swine products from China.”
We are aware of the importance of epidemiological surveillance systems, but it is important to note that the virus identified in this study does not currently pose a danger to human health and the EU does not import swine products from China,” a Community source told Lusa regarding information on the possibility of a new pandemic from a strain of the swine flu virus discovered in China.
China itself has also now downplayed the danger of a new pandemic from this strain, discovered in the country by researchers who reported it in a study published on Monday in the U.S. scientific journal PNAS.
The viruses, detected by scientists from Chinese universities and the China Center for Disease Prevention and Control, have been designated G4, genetically descended from the H1N1 strain, and have “all the essential characteristics, showing high adaptability to contaminate humans”, and therefore have the potential to trigger a new pandemic like the one facing the world today, which also began in China.
Chinese scientists discover new swine virus with pandemic potential
However, a spokesman for Chinese diplomacy, Zhao Lijian, said that “experts have concluded that the sample size cited in the report is small and unrepresentative,” ensuring that the country will continue to “monitor the disease, give the alert if necessary and treat it in time.”
The EU source told Lusa that the Commission is monitoring potential zoonotic threats within the EU and around the world but adds that the study in question does not yet show evidence of human-human transmission, although it has been shown to know this virus at least since 2013.
In any case, if serious threats become apparent, the Commission will work to minimise risks and protect the health of all. The importance of good preparation and continuing to improve the resilience of our systems and societies is clear because we know that Covid-19 will not be the last health threat we will have to deal with,” said the Commission source.
The source also stressed that people’s health and the health of the planet are interconnected and that the degradation of the environment leads to diseases that affect humans.
According to the study in question between 2011 and 2018, scientists collected 30,000 samples from pigs kept in slaughterhouses in the 10 Chinese provinces and in a veterinary hospital and managed to isolate 179 swine flu viruses, concluding that 10.4 percent of people who came into contact with the animals were infected.
However, they still have no evidence that G4 viruses are capable of being transmitted from human to human for the time being.
The new coronavirus that causes Covid-19 disease, first reported late last year in the Chinese city of Wuhan (center), has already affected more than 10 million people worldwide.
According to most scientists, the virus was probably transmitted to humans from an animal.