Six nations reported coronavirus in farmed minks: WHO

Hemani Sheth Mumbai | Updated on November 07, 2020

Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Italy and the United States of America have reported SARS-CoV-2 in farmed minks

Six countries across the globe have reported cases of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19 in farmed minks, the World Health Organisation said on Friday.

“To date, six countries, namely Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Italy and the United States of America have reported SARS-CoV-2 in farmed minks to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE),” WHO said in a statement.

A new variation of the novel coronavirus linked to farmed minks has recently come into the light. Denmark has reported 214 human cases of Covid-19 with SARS-CoV-2 variants associated with farmed minks. Out of this, 12 cases with a unique variant which was reported on November 5 by the Danish Public Health Authority (Statens Serum Institut) in Denmark. All 12 cases were identified in September 2020 in North Jutland, Denmark.

Eight of the twelve patients, aged from 7 to 79 years were linked to the mink farming industry and four cases were from the local community.

Danish authorities have warned that this particular variant of the virus dubbed "cluster 5" variant could impact the effectiveness of a future vaccine. Initial studies have shown that the virus is less sensitive to neutralizing antibodies.

“Preliminary findings indicate that this particular mink-associated variant identified in both minks and the 12 human cases has moderately decreased sensitivity to neutralizing antibodies,” WHO said in its statement.

Danish authorities as a precaution have ordered the culling of all farmed mink, over 17 million in Denmark. Over a quarter-million population in the country have been ordered into a lockdown with bars, restaurants, public transport and all public indoor sports remaining closed in seven North Jutland municipalities until December 3.

The current variant of the SARS-CoV-2 was first identified in humans in December 2019. Though the origin of the virus and the intermediate host(s) are yet to be identified, the virus is believed to be ancestrally linked to bats, WHO said.

The health agency has suggested that further studies are required to better understand the virus mutation linked to farmed minks.

“All viruses, including SARS-CoV-2, change over time. SARS-CoV-2 strains infecting minks, which are subsequently transmitted to humans, may have acquired unique combinations of mutations. In order to fully understand the impact of specific mutations, advanced laboratory studies are required,” it said.

Published on November 07, 2020

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