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China has identified a new strain of swine flu named G4 EA H1N1, a virus similar to the pandemic in 2009. Chinese scientists at universities and China’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention detected the new strain after analysing 30,000 nasal swabs from pigs. Virologist Stephen Griffin warned that crucial actions must be taken from the outset to prevent another global pandemic like coronavirus.
While on BBC Radio 5 Live, Mr Griffin said: “The way to stop it is by doing the things we have done with other flu outbreaks.
“We need to have a control of animals, increased hygiene and surveillance of those that are exposed to those animals.
“That is very important and we have already seen pig industry workers are positive for this virus.
“It is important to get on top of that at the outset.”
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Mr Griffin then noted that, unlike with other diseases, when it comes to influenza the medical community has good mechanisms in place to create vaccines.
He said, the world medical community can better prepare for this new virus in comparison to the surprise of coronavirus.
He continued: “The good thing about influenza is we have a very robust mechanism to ensure vaccines can be made.
“We are aware of this and might I add there is a global surveillance programme for influenza is one of the reasons we were able to spot this.
“We are aware of the dangers of this so if this does increase as a threat we do have measures in place to start preparing for it.”
The virologist also explained how pandemics occur and why pigs can play a key role in starting them.
He said: “Pandemics generally occur when a virus jumps that barrier between species.
“We know from the swine flu outbreak in 2009 that pigs are a mixing vessel for influenza viruses.
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“That means that pigs can be infected with more than one type of virus.
“Due to the nature of that virus parts of the genetic information can swap over.
“It is important to say there are many stages to a virus causing a pandemic.
“The first stage of that is a localised transmission in people such as we are seeing here.”
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