Two Chinese scientists, George Fu Gao and Weifeng Shi, who identified the virus causing Covid-19 in 2019, have raised the alert for a new pandemic threat, according to ‘El País’.
In an article published in the journal Science, experts point out that the main suspect for this potential pandemic is the virus responsible for the known bird flu: H5N8.
The nurse is an old acquaintance. It has been circulating in Europe since 2014, causing an outbreak that has infected millions of birds, according to the European Center for Disease Control and Prevention (ECDC).
On February 20, 2021, Russia warned that the virus had infected humans for the first time. Seven workers were injured on a giant farm with 900,000 chickens in the southern Astrakhan region. None of the seven showed any symptoms.
In Spain, the Ministry of Agriculture has reported three wild bird outbreaks in the past few months, but the issue has not been of much significance. “The disclosure of this case does not involve public health risks, as genetic studies show that they are avian viruses that have no connection to humans,” he said in a statement.
However, these two Chinese experts are less optimistic. And they warned in the journal “Science” that “the global spread of the H5N8 bird flu virus is a public health problem.”
George Fu Zhao is director general of the China Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and Weifeng Shi is director of the Reference Laboratory for Emerging Infectious Diseases in Shandong universities.
Both were involved in learning about the novel coronavirus in December 2019.
For those responsible, bird flu viruses can cause “catastrophic epidemics” in humans.
At least 46 countries in Europe, Asia and Africa have reported fatal outbreaks of H5N8 virus in birds. Chinese researchers indicate that the virus of the Seven Russian Workers belongs to the subgroup 126.96.36.199b, with “worrisome” mutations, which appear to increase their affinity for human cells.
Fu Zhao and Shi warned that this same type of virus has already killed more than 20 million birds in South Korea and Japan. They warned that “it is essential not to ignore the global spread and potential risks of the H5N8 avian influenza virus”.