Don’t Panic Over the ‘New’ Swine Flu You’ve Been Hearing About

It’s been around since 2016 and there’s no evidence it’s circulating in humans, experts say

Robert Roy Britt
Elemental
Published in
5 min readJul 7, 2020

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Photo: Joern Pollex/Getty Images

With the Covid-19 pandemic surging across much of the United States and expected to last for months, the possibility of a global flu pandemic kicking in this fall would scare the pants off any infectious-disease expert. But there is no reason to panic, they say, over a newly identified swine flu strain that researchers in China say does have the potential to become a pandemic.

“What we should not do is freak out and expect that another flu pandemic is imminent,” says Angela Rasmussen, PhD, a virologist and research scientist at the Center of Infection and Immunity at the Columbia University School of Public Health. That said, eventually some flu strain will cause another global pandemic. “Maybe this fall, maybe not for another few years, but is inevitable,” Rasmussen says via Twitter.

The influenza virus strain, detailed June 29 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences and widely reported in the media, is not new, despite some articles stating the opposite. It has been common in pigs in China since 2016, based on the new analysis of samples collected in pigs between 2011 and 2018, and has been transmitted to at least two…

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Robert Roy Britt
Elemental

Editor of Aha! and Wise & Well on Medium + the Writer's Guide at writersguide.substack.com. Author of Make Sleep Your Superpower: amazon.com/dp/B0BJBYFQCB