New Langya Virus Infects Dozens in Eastern China

    Photo: Shutterstock [via Vice News]

    The Facts

    • In an article published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week, an international team of scientists reported the discovery of a new virus, the Langya henipavirus (LayV), that likely jumped to humans from shrews.

    • The infection was found in 35 people in the eastern Chinese provinces of Shandong and Henan between 2018 and 2021. After contact tracing, no evidence was found that LayV is transmissible among humans.

    The Spin

    Narrative A

    Long before the coronavirus pandemic, scientists warned that unregulated wildlife trade, climate change, deforestation, and urbanization have brought people closer to animals, thus increasing the odds of viral spillover. These incidents are concerning and, as COVID proved, can have disruptive and deadly consequences. We must address these root cause issues.

    Narrative B

    This new virus is nothing we should be worried about. There's no evidence from this report that it transmits between people, the symptoms are mild, and a new virus isn't always a need for panic. There's no need for alarmism here.

    Nerd narrative

    There's a 15% chance that there will be a novel pathogen that kills over 25 million people between 2022 and 2031 (inclusive), according to the Metaculus prediction community.

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