"They did not show - and this is important - that it would cause disease in humans, so this is not an immediate public health threat", says Lesosky.
The Chinese-British study, recently published in the peer-reviewed journal the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, sought to identify influenza strains that could potentially cause pandemics.
The research was based on surveillance of pigs in 10 Chinese provinces from 2011 to 2018.
The Epidemiology and Surveillance Unit of the Ministry of Health said that it will closely monitor the situation and provide any updates to the public when deemed appropriate. Most viruses don't do this, but the flu does. There's not a huge amount of detail in the new paper but of the people the researchers sampled, none died from this virus. "This influenza virus is known for being fickle". A very few people have been known to contract it, and almost 10% of farm workers on certain farms have antibodies to it, meaning they may have had been infected without realising.
The researchers then carried out various experiments including on ferrets, which are widely used in flu studies because they experience similar symptoms to humans - principally fever, coughing and sneezing.
There's no sign this new virus has taken off or spread in the regions of China where it was found.
It possesses "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans", say the authors, scientists at Chinese universities and China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
Carl Bergstrom, a biologist at the University of Washington, said: "There's no evidence that G4 is circulating in humans, despite five years of extensive exposure".
As Common Dreams reported in March, the global coronavirus outbreak has led environmental experts to warn that humans must prioritize efforts to contain habitat destruction and the exploitation of animals to avoid another pandemic.
The new coronavirus (Covid-19) has spread to almost every country in the world since it first emerged in China at the beginning of the year.
"Like human influenza viruses, there are different subtypes and strains of influenza viruses in pigs", according to the USDA. "Sure, this virus meets a lot of the basic criteria but it's not for sure going to cause a hypothetical 2020 flu pandemic, or even be a dominant strain in humans".
Influenza viruses infect respiratory cells by binding to a specific receptor on the cells' surface. "Controlling the prevailing G4 EA H1N1 viruses in pigs and close monitoring in human populations, especially the workers in the swine industry, should be urgently implemented". Surprisingly, 10% of samples from farm workers, and about 4% of samples from the general population, contained such antibodies. It has been ticking over since 2013 and became the majority swine H1N1 virus in China in 2018.
Pangilinan cited the need to boost our disaster and pandemic response, adding: "Our government was delayed and caught by surprise for several weeks before the COVID local transmission".
Before COVID-19, the most recent novel influenza A (H1N1) outbreak occurred in the spring of 2009.