An alarming study recently appeared in the highly respected journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Examining viruses found in pigs from 2011 to 2018, Chinese scientists identified a strain of the H1N1 flu virus that has “all the essential hallmarks of a candidate pandemic virus” (Reuters, June 29, 2020). “The study highlights the risks of viruses crossing the species barrier into humans, especially in densely populated regions in China, where millions live close to farms, breeding facilities, slaughterhouses and wet markets.” Scientists know that pigs are critical “mixing vessels” for viruses and these animals can enable viruses to change until they are transmissible to humans. Individuals most at risk of contracting this virus are those who work in the swine industry, given their daily contact with pigs.
While there appears to be “no imminent threat” that this new, highly infectious virus is about to rapidly spread among human populations, some pig farmers and some of China’s general population have already developed antibodies to the virus (Deutsche Welle, June 30, 2020). This indicates that the virus has already passed from animals to humans in some instances. However, scientists do not yet have evidence that the virus can pass from humans to humans.
It is sobering to realize that another pandemic could be in the making. The instructive truth is that many of these viruses with pandemic potential arise from animals that the Bible clearly forbids to be eaten (Leviticus 11; Deuteronomy 14). Exposure to these “unclean” animals puts the human population at great risk. For greater insight into why a loving God would allow global disease events, be sure to watch our hard-hitting program “Why Does God Allow Pandemics?”