Factbox: What we know about Denmark’s mink coronavirus strain


COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark has discovered a new, mutated state of coronovirus stems from mink farms in the northern part of the country, which officials say could avoid future COVID-19 vaccines.

Mink’s leg is seen at the farm of Heinrich Nordgard Hansen and An-Mona Kulusse Larsen near Naestved, Denmark, November 6, 2020. Ritzau Scanpix / Mads Claus via Rasmussia REUTERS.

To curb human contagion, the government ordered to curb the entire mink population of 17 million in Denmark, one of the world’s largest mink pellet producers.

Here’s what is known about Danish stress:

What are mink strains and why do they buy?

According to Denmark’s State Serum Institute (SSI), Denmark has identified five variants of the virus derived from mink, but only one – known as cluster 5 – showed “low sensitivity” to the antibody, which That is related to infectious diseases.

State epidemiologist Kere Molbach said Cluster 5 was no more dangerous than other strains or more contagious.

Clusters 2, 3 and 4 are still being studied for low sensitivity, which has already been rejected in the Cluster 1 version.

How is the spread against different?

Cluster 5 has been found on five mink farms in northern Denmark and 12 cases were reported in humans in the same Danish region in August and September, but none have been registered since, according to SSI.

“We can just hope that it no longer exists to the same extent,” Mollbach said at a news conference on Thursday, saying that nothing can be said with certainty.

Cluster 5 makes up about 5% of the strains found in northern Denmark, but has not appeared outside the country and it is not immediately clear why it emerged in Denmark.

What is the application for future results?

World Health Organization chief scientist Soumya Swaminathan said on Friday that cluster 5 mutations could potentially impact the efficacy of vaccines, if any.

But SSI’s initial laboratory studies suggest the new strain had a mutation on its so-called spike protein, which attacks and infects healthy cells.

This may pose a problem for future vaccines that are currently under development as most of them focus on neutralizing spike proteins.

The data has been shared with international counterparts, including the WHO and the European Center for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC), and the genome sequences of the mutated virus strains have been logged into the Global Initiative on Initial Influenza Data (GISAID).

SSI said it would continue to share its findings.

Why is a stray AMINK?

The WHO said on Thursday that minks are susceptible to new viruses and “good reservoirs” for the virus. Outbreaks have occurred on mink farms in Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain and the United States.

As mink is kept in cages close to each other, the virus can spread easily.

Why us?

Mink and humans have a similar biological feature about the so-called ACE2-enzyme expressed by respiratory tract cells, which makes it easier for mink to be infected with a virus that has adapted to humans, Alan Randrup Thomson, Copenhagen A virologist at the university, told Reuters.

WHO’s top emergency expert Mike Ryan said, “There is always the potential that it can return to humans.”

“This is a concern because mammalian species like mink are very good hosts and viruses can develop within that species, especially if they are packaged together in large numbers,” he said.

It is believed that the novel coronovirus was first made the leap from animals to humans in China, possibly through bats or some other animal in a food market in Wuhan.

Are other liverstock at risk?

Ryan of WHO said the risk in other animals, such as pigs and poultry, is very low, as farms have “very strict” biodiversity, so that viruses can block the barrier.

According to the Danish Veterinary and Food Administration, the tests have failed to infect pigs, while cattle were infected only to a “very small degree”.

It stated that a specimen taken from Gaul’s leg is positive for the novel coronavirus, but there was no evidence that it contained infected birds.

Have a job?

Mutations in the virus occur all the time. Adapt to the new environment, viruses survive and most mutations of coronovirus are harmless.

Malbuck said two factors are involved in the mutation. First, the virus has to adapt to its new host. Second, when a virus enters a new population, a lot of antibodies are made in the population, commonly known as herd immunity.

The virus reacts by creating so-called antibody escape mutants, which try and escape the antibodies in the community.

What else are other countries doing?

The WHO said it is looking at biodiversity around mink farms in countries around the world to prevent “spillover incidents”.

Discovery of mutations should not change on Thursday what governments and officials around the world should do to control the epidemic.

Britain said that all passengers arriving from the Nordic country on Friday would need to self-segregate as a result of the outbreak, but this did not consider them a risk to the country.

Additional reporting by Tim Barso, editing by Josephine Mason and Timothy Heritage

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