Mink are seen on a farm in Gjol, Northern Denmark on October 9, 2020.
HENNING BAGGER | Ritzau Scanpix | AFP via Getty Images
LONDON – The World Health Organization announced on Friday that it would review biosecurity measures according to Danish health authorities worldwide found a mutated form of the coronavirus present in the country’s mink farms.
Evidence of the mutated virus among minks has questions raised on the effectiveness of a future Covid-19 vaccine.
The Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said earlier this week The government planned to kill all 15 million minks on Danish farms to reduce the risk that the animals would retransmit the new strain of the coronavirus to humans.
Frederiksen described the situation as “very, very serious” and warned that the mutated virus could have “devastating consequences” worldwide.
When asked about reports of the mutated virus under mink during a press conference on Friday, Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, WHO Director of Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis: “There is always concern when you have circulation and transmission from humans to animals and then animals to humans.”
“We have been seeing this for several months and we understand that the mink became infected with human contact and circulated in the mink and then can be traced back to humans,” said van Kerkhove of WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Each of these changes, each of these mutations, whether they are identified in the mink or in humans, needs to be evaluated because we have to determine the meaning of each of these mutations. The virus behaves differently, “said van Kerkhove.
“There is an appropriate way to do this as studies are needed to assess whether there is a change in communicability or severity and if it has any implications for the diagnosis of vaccines and therapeutics,” she continued.
“In this situation, there is an indication that some of these mutations might have some impact, but we need to do the right studies to evaluate this and this is still ongoing.”
Maria Van Kerkhove, Head of Emerging Diseases and Zoonosis Division of the World Health Organization, speaks during a press conference following a meeting of the Emergency Committee on the new coronavirus in Geneva on January 22, 2020.
Pierre Albouy | AFP | Getty Images
The United Nations Health Department said it worked with regional offices in Europe, the Western Pacific and the Americas, as there are many mink farms in countries around the world.
We “look at the biosecurity in the mink farms, look at the surveillance that is going on in those mink farms, and help countries take the right steps to prevent the virus from continuing to circulate in minks – and around.” prevent overflow events from occurring. ” “said van Kerkhove.
To date, more than 48.8 million people worldwide have contracted the coronavirus, with 1.23 million deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.
Drug manufacturers and research centers are working hard to provide a safe and effective vaccine to end the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the leading U.S. infectious disease expert, said He believed it would only take a few weeks for the results of a possible Covid vaccine to become known.
Reports of a mutated coronavirus in the mink population in Denmark, one of the world’s largest exporters of mink fur, have raised concerns about the effectiveness of a potential vaccine.
“I think it’s very important to realize that things like this happen all the time. This is a global pandemic and many millions (people) have been infected and many millions of animals have been released,” said Dr. Mike Ryan. Executive Director of the WHO Health Emergencies Program said during the same briefing.
‘There is always the potential for the virus to come back on humans and that is worrying because mammalian species like mink are in a sense very good hosts and the virus can develop within those species, especially when large numbers are close together . “Said Ryan.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen will hold a press conference on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 on April 6, 2020 at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Copenhagen, Denmark.
PHILIP DAVALI | Ritzau Scanpix | AFP via Getty Images
“We have to look at this viral development, we have to create biosecurity in such establishments so that there is no contact with the human population. And we have to address all of these problems. But for now the evidence for this we did not suspect that this was Variant differs in its behavior in some way, “he added.
Ryan said WHO needs to assess whether the mutation of the virus in the mink population differs in clinical severity or whether there are implications for diagnostics or vaccines. “But we are far from making such a decision,” he said.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, chief scientist for the World Health Organization, said it was unwise to reach conclusions after reports of the mutated virus found on mink farms in Denmark.
“I think we’ll have to wait and see what the effects are, but I don’t think we should come to any conclusions about whether or not this particular mutation will affect the vaccine’s effectiveness,” Swaminathan said.
“We have no evidence of this at the moment. But we will update you as soon as we have more information.”