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Scientists warn new virus in pigs has potential pandemic risk

A new virus found in pigs in China has become more infectious to humans and has a potential pandemic risk, a new study has found.

The study was published in the US journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Chinese researchers analysed flu viruses found in pigs from 2011 to 2018 and found a “G4” strain of H1N1 with “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus”.

“Pigs are intermediate hosts for the generation of pandemic influenza virus. Thus, systematic surveillance of influenza viruses in pigs is a key measure for prewarning the emergence of the next pandemic influenza”, the study said.

Researchers added, however, that there is “no evidence that G4 is circulating in humans, despite five years of extensive exposure”.

The coronavirus is believed to have spread to humans via an animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan, where it was first identified.

The study warned that pigs are considered “mixing vessels” for the generation of pandemic influenza viruses and called for “systematic surveillance” of the issue of viruses crossing from animals into humans.

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