20:03 GMT05 August 2020
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    BEIJING (Sputnik) - Chinese experts have reviewed the risks associate with the newly-discovered strain of swine flu and concluded that it is unlikely to grow into an outbreak among humans, China's Ministry of Agriculture said in a statement on Saturday.

    "The probability of the G4 swine flu virus spreading among the population is rather low", the Ministry of Agriculture said.

    According to the statement, special consultations were held over the past few days among knowledgeable experts — including specialists in animal husbandry and control and prevention of animal epidemics as well as customs officials and the leading author of the scientific article — to determine the risks associated with the virus.

    "Participants unanimously concluded that the G4 strain of swine flu, as reviewed in the article, is a subtype of the H1N1 virus, which is considered a relatively common seasonal influenza virus rather than a new virus", the statement read.

    As stated by the article's lead author, "it is hard for the G4 swine flu virus to replicate in a human body and cause illness". The scientist also said that the pig farm workers who participated in the research, had no symptoms even though 10 percent of them displayed antibodies to G4 during serological tests.

    The ministry further cited experts as unanimously admitting that the article's statistical sample was too small to be considered representative.

    "The article was reprinted by many media, both in China and abroad, and led to numerous exaggerated and inaccurate interpretations", the statement read.

    Meanwhile, the article uses research findings dating back to 2018 and offers neither any compelling evidence that G4 has become a dominant strain among a pig population nor that it has increased pathogenicity and mortality among animals.

    This past Monday, a group of Chinese researchers published a paper in US scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences where they announced the discovery of a new strain of H1N1 virus, which infamously triggered a swine flu pandemic in 2009. Researchers termed it G4 and warned it could cause a new pandemic, albeit there is no viable evidence that the virus transmits from human to human.

    Chinese authorities have earlier responded to the alarming publication by vowing to prevent the spread of any viruses potentially capable of triggering a new pandemic. The World Health Organisation, in turn, has voiced an intention to look into the report.

    strain, agriculture, swine flu, China
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