Minks are seen at a farm in Gjol, northern Denmark on October 9, 2020.
HENNING BAGGER | Ritzau Scanpix | AFP by way of Getty Images
LONDON — The World Health Organization mentioned on Friday it will evaluate biosecurity measures throughout the globe after Danish well being authorities discovered a mutated type of the coronavirus current within the nation’s mink farms.
The detection of the mutated virus amongst minks has raised questions in regards to the effectiveness of a future Covid-19 vaccine.
Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen mentioned earlier this week that the federal government deliberate to cull all 15 million minks in Danish farms to attempt to cut back the chance of the animals re-transmitting the brand new pressure of the coronavirus to people.
Frederiksen described the scenario as “very, very serious,” warning the mutated virus might have “devastating consequences” worldwide.
When requested about stories of the mutated virus amongst minks throughout a information briefing on Friday, Dr. Maria van Kerkhove, head of the WHO’s rising ailments and zoonosis unit, mentioned: “There is always a concern when you have a circulation and transmission from humans to animals and then animals to humans.”
“We’ve been seeing this for a number of months now and what we understand is the minks have been infected with contact from humans and it circulates in the mink and then it can pass back to humans,” van Kerkhove mentioned from WHO’s headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland.
“Each one of these changes, each one of these mutations, whether they are identified in mink or they are identified in humans, need to be evaluated because we need to determine the importance of each of these. And if any of these changes means that the virus behaves differently,” van Kerkhove mentioned.
“There’s a proper way to do that because there need to be studies to evaluate if there’s any changes in transmissibility or severity and if there are any implications for diagnostics for vaccines and therapeutics,” she continued.
“In this situation, there is a suggestion that some of these mutations may have some implications, but we need to do the proper studies to evaluate this and that is ongoing right now.”
Maria Van Kerkhove, head of the World Health Organization’s rising ailments and zoonosis unit, speaks throughout a press convention following an emergency committee assembly over the brand new coronavirus in Geneva on Jan. 22, 2020.
Pierre Albouy | AFP | Getty Images
The United Nations well being company mentioned it was working with regional places of work in Europe, the Western Pacific, and the Americas as a result of there are a lot of mink farms current in nations throughout the globe.
We are “looking at the biosecurity on the mink farms, looking at the surveillance that’s happening in these mink farms and to support countries in taking the right steps to prevent the virus to continue to circulate in minks — and to prevent spillover events from happening,” van Kerkhove mentioned.
To date, greater than 48.eight million folks have contracted the coronavirus worldwide, with 1.23 million associated deaths, in keeping with knowledge compiled by Johns Hopkins University.
Drugmakers and analysis facilities are scrambling to ship a protected and efficient vaccine in an try to carry an finish to the coronavirus pandemic.
Last month, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the U.S.’s main professional on infectious illness, mentioned he believed it will solely be a matter of weeks earlier than the findings of a possible Covid vaccine will likely be recognized.
The stories of a mutated coronavirus among the many mink inhabitants in Denmark, one of many world’s foremost mink fur exporters, has triggered concern in regards to the effectiveness of a possible vaccine.
“I think it is very important to recognize that these types of things happen all of the time. This is a global pandemic and many millions (of people) have been infected and many millions of animals have been exposed,” Dr. Mike Ryan, govt director of the WHO’s well being emergencies program, mentioned throughout the identical briefing.
“There is always a potential that the virus can then come back to humans and that is a concern because mammal species like mink are very good hosts in a sense and the virus can evolve within those species especially if there are large numbers packed closely together,” Ryan mentioned.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen addresses a press convention on the novel coronavirus COVID-19 on the State Department in Copenhagen, Denmark on April 6, 2020.
PHILIP DAVALI | Ritzau Scanpix | AFP by way of Getty Images
“We have to look at that viral evolution, we have to create the biosecurity around farms like that so that there is not that contact back with human populations. And we have to address all of those issues. But, right now, the evidence that we have does not suggest that this variant is in any way different in the way it behaves,” he added.
Ryan mentioned the WHO must consider whether or not the mutation of the virus among the many mink inhabitants is completely different by way of its scientific severity or whether or not there may be any implication for diagnostics or vaccines. “But we are a long, long way away from making any determination of that kind,” he mentioned.
Dr. Soumya Swaminathan, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist, mentioned it will be unwise to leap to any conclusions following stories of the mutated virus discovered amongst mink farms in Denmark.
“I think that we need to wait and see what the implications are, but I don’t think we should come to any conclusions about whether this particular mutation is going to impact vaccine efficacy or not,” Swaminathan mentioned.
“We don’t have any evidence at the moment that it would. But we will update you as we get more information.”