Everyone in the world now knows about corona virus which originated in Wuhan, China. This virus spilled over from bats to humans. However, after almost a year, now arises a new mutant of the coronavirus.
Corona Virus Mutation
A mutation is a change in the DNA sequence. A new coronavirus mutation has been observed in Denmark’s mink population. Though, the virus is not limited to the mink population. It has spread to other parts of the country and other countries as well. The other countries include the United States of America, the Netherlands, Spain, Italy, and Sweden. Till now, more than 200 people have been infected with this mink-related virus. These infections are in the age range of 7 to 79 years.
Currently, 5 clusters of mink variants of SARS-CoV-2 are present in Denmark. Due to this, this mutant virus outbreak is also called ‘Cluster 5’.
As mentioned in a previous post, “Disulfiram: Potential as Medicine for Alcoholism and COVID-19”, the making of the vaccine for COVID-19 is not easy because the virus can be mutated. And once the virus is mutated, the vaccine would be rendered ineffective.
According to the experts, the virus from humans has infected the minks in the farms. Additionally, the virus has mutated in the minks and spilled back to humans. This coronavirus also has the ability to spill back from humans to minks. The same virus has been detected in mink farms in the Netherlands. Such mutations are a reason to worry as the vaccine will be less / ineffective on the mutated virus.
The Danish government has taken this matter very seriously. The first step to tackle the problem is to get rid of the cause. In this case, the mink has become the reservoir of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Hence, the government has ordered the killing of all farm mink in the country.
Many European countries had tackled COVID-19 wonderfully. Moreover, recently these countries witnessed flattening of the curve. However, due to this new coronavirus strain, the countries are witnessing a second wave of the pandemic. And this is leading to another lockdown in these countries. Additionally, the government is also enhancing the surveillance of the local population for the detection of COVID-19 cases.
In view of the mutated virus in the European countries, The European Center for Disease Control and Prevention is going to release a risk assessment on the spread of SARS-CoV-2 in mink farms this week. There is an urgent need for research about the new strain, focusing on its infectivity and host range.
Denmark’s government has also taken certain actions from the research point of view. There will be rapid sharing of the full genome sequences of the mink-variant SARS-CoV-2. This would help tackle the virus not only in Denmark but in other countries s well. Denmark will also be expanding the percentage of the sequencing of human and mink SARS-CoV-2 infections in the country.
Role of WHO
It is only after research, study, and analysis of the mutant virus that scientists can come up with how to fight this mutant. The members of the WHO SARS-CoV-2 Virus Evolution Working Group are working with Danish scientists. This will enable the researchers to understand the available results better and also collaborate on further studies.
WHO is also advising all countries to increase the sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 viruses. Sharing these data internationally would be of great benefit to scientists all over the world. WHO also reminds countries to strengthen farming biosafety and biosecurity measures around known animal reservoirs. This will help to limit the risk of zoonotic events associated with the virus.
It is certainly a challenge for the government of Denmark to control the spread of infection in the country. Extensive research is the need of the hour to elevate the world for the current situation. This is also going to impact the ongoing production of vaccines to a huge extent.
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