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Variants of the mutant coronavirus found around mink farms in 6 countries

Denmark, Italy, Netherlands, Spain, Sweden & USA have reported possible cases of mutated coronavirus strain linked to mink farms.

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As we are not even close to escaping the SARS-Cov-2 (coronavirus) pandemic, the virus keeps on mutating itself with strains from different animals. Latest mutation of coronavirus is reported around farms that breed minks in six countries around the world. It’s very nature of viruses to undergo mutations when they travel from one organism to another, the scientists from Denmark’s State Serum Institute (SSI) assume the possibility of transfer of SARS-Cov-2 virus from humans to links amid the pandemic which went through mutation inside the animal body.

First such mutation in minks was recorded in May 2020 however, since then cases around mink breeding farms in Denmark surged. As for now, Denmark authorities have ordered to close down all the mink farms.

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Image: Reuters

There are a total of five clusters of mutations scientists at SSI are researching upon out of which interference of cluster 1 has been ruled out, cluster-5 is showing reduced sensitivity to antibodies and cluster 2, 3, and 4 of the mutations are still under observation.

“Although the virus is believed to be ancestrally linked to bats, its origin and intermediate host(s) of SARS-CoV-2 have not yet been identified,” WHO noted.

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There have been 214 people infected with the coronavirus linked to minks since July and recently 12 new cases of mutated coronavirus from minks to humans are recorded. Denmark authorities are looking forward to killing 17 million of their mink population to restrict further outbreak of this new strain of the virus. However, scientists are sure till now of the mutated virus not to be seriously severe as they suggest a mutation of the virus as a normal and natural process. Mutations of coronavirus are seen in mammals after the primary outbreak from bats in China.

Denmark epidemiologist Kare Molbak said cluster-5 was not more dangerous than other strains or more infectious, according to Reuters.

Studies have found the mutation of the new COVID strain was carried on the spike proteins, which helps the virus to attach with the healthy cells inside the body.

Developing vaccines focus on the disabling or inactivation of the spike proteins only. Finding new mutations of the virus will result in the inefficiency of vaccines from COVID-19. As mammal species can be more prone to hosts of virus mutation, the coronavirus concern still should be a priority to avoid another such outbreak.

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Scientists suggest not to panic over the new mutation of coronavirus as viruses undergo mutations often. Mutations can also be virulent and infectious upon jumping from one species to another. But as the research is under process, cluster-5 of the strain is still a potential concern.

Image source: Getty Images

WHO in a statement on 6th November (Friday) said, “Initial observations suggest that the clinical presentation, severity and transmission among those infected are similar to that of other circulating SARS-CoV-2 viruses.”

“However, this variant… the ‘cluster-5’ variant, had a combination of mutations, or changes that have not been previously observed. The implications of the identified changes in this variant are not yet well understood,” WHO warned.

For more such updates check our Health & Care Section

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