"We will read carefully the paper to understand what is new", the WHO's Christian Lindmeier said during a briefing in Geneva, while asserting the need to collaborate on potential findings and to monitor animal populations that may be susceptible to contracting and spreading the virus. Moreover, the journal - Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences - which published this breaking news has said that the immediate measures should be taken to monitor the swine industry, its workers, and control the virus in case it starts to spread.
But she added that "influenza can surprise us" and noted that the pandemic H1N1 strain of 2009 was completely unknown until human cases began happening.
Named G4, it is genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009.
It is a combination of three different flu strains: one similar to strains discovered in Asian and European birds, the H1N1 strain, and a North American H1N1 that has genes from avian, human, and pig influenza viruses. Therefore, "It's necessary to strengthen the surveillance" of Chinese pigs for influenza viruses, says Sun, also at CAU.
The study highlights the risks of viruses crossing the species barrier into humans, especially in densely populated areas where millions live in close proximity to farms, breeding facilities, slaughterhouses and wet markets. "However, the news that the next viral pandemic will be caused by a new virus found in pigs might be a little premature".
"Hygiene standards, and feeds including hormones and steroids across Asia are likely to be contributory factors to compromised immune systems and the potential of viruses to spread".
The scientists who found the virus have shown concerns that this virus can mutate further.
"Pork and poultry are also very popular across Asia, so there are huge numbers of the animals in the region - in fact, current statistics show over half the world's pig population is in China".
People do not have any existing immunity against it, they said.
That virus, called A/H1N1pdm09, is now covered by the annual flu vaccine to make sure people are protected. "Making the seed stock is not a big deal, and we should have it ready", Webster says.
Ideally, Nelson says, we would produce a human G4 vaccine and have it in the stockpile, but that's an involved process that requires substantial funding.