Analysis: The mutant coronavirus strain, which surged from mink to human in Denmark, is less worrisome to experts than Covid-19’s potential for animal storage, reports Marc Daalder.
Denmark has 17 million mink. Now I am trying to kill them all.
News of mink curls from Nordic countries made headlines around the world. Most of them are focusing on claims that ferret-like mammals bred for fur developed new, more dangerous coronavirus strains and then passed them back to humans. However, public health experts, virologists, and geneticists who spoke in the newsroom all agreed that the strain itself was exaggerated.
The real problem is the potential construction of animal repositories for viruses that can cause dangerous mutations in the future and cases of human-animal-human transmission of the virus have been first identified. The saga also highlights the problem of humans living too close to animals whose immune systems can infect us with undefended viruses.
At first glance, the headlines must have been worrisome.
“Can the covid mutation spread from MINK to humans in Denmark?” that much Daily mail criticism.
“How Mink’s Coronavirus Mutation Could Disrupt Vaccine Development,” slate Provided.
However, I am not concerned about the mutation itself. Like other RNA viruses, SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes Covid-19 disease) must replicate itself to infect new hosts. Each time you do that, there is the potential to make a typo in one of the 30,000 basic chemicals, slightly altering the structure of the virus strain in the future.
Although individual mutations are unlikely to make functional differences, You can track it to help you track your contacts. And research. Virus strains are marked as strains only when it is clear that they function differently from strains without a given mutation. For more information on this Previous in-depth analysis of the newsroom to The genome of our own coronavirus case.
Experts in New Zealand say there will be no risk of evolving vaccine escapes to the point that the vaccine is no longer effective as a result of the mink-to-human mutations discovered so far.
“There is currently evidence that the effectiveness of neutralizing antibodies has decreased,” Joep de Ligt, director of bioinformatics at the National Laboratory ESR, told Newsroom.
This means that antibodies, one of the basic building blocks of our immune system, are slightly less effective in fighting viruses. However, this was determined through laboratory tests. It may appear differently in real life scenarios of the human body.
“But it’s still very lab-based, and there’s very little extra evidence out there,” added de Ligt.
“Every change in the virus is potentially worrisome. Personally, yes, that’s something to worry about. But if you look at the genomic diversity that’s currently happening in Russia or India, the population is much larger and there are more changes.
“So it’s not necessarily specific about this mink mutation. It’s likely to be a bit more special because the host is different and it has the potential to adapt in different ways. But for me, it’s still prevalent in countries with large populations with large numbers of viruses. .
Principle of evolution
University of Auckland microbiologist Susie Wiles said the news about the strain was exaggerated.
“As to whether the strains that have emerged are now more dangerous, more contagious, or related to vaccines, it is now completely speculation.”
Jemma Geoghegan, an evolutionary virologist at the University of Otago, told Newsroom that evolutionary principles indicate that viruses naturally pick one thing that is better transmitted from mink to mink in the mink population. She said it would depend on coincidence, whether it could be transmitted to humans to some extent or seriously. But, she said, there is no reason to think that movement through the mink will create a particularly terrible variant for humans.
“I’m a lot less confident about the reported mutations, and to be honest, I’m a bit scared,” she said.
“We’re not sure about the functional effects of these mutations. When the virus is in the mink, it certainly doesn’t adapt to humans. So I’m not exactly sure how to make the human virus more adaptable to humans. Mink. That’s how evolution works. Isn’t that the way?”
De Ligt agrees, but points out that there is a risk of random mutations that are dangerous to stay in the mink population before humans jump back again. He quoted Latest news about Pfizer vaccine That’s why we limit the spread of Covid-19 in humans and mink as much as possible.
“It’s more important than ever to reduce the population because we’re getting encouraging news about the vaccine, especially because the less spread the virus, the fewer mutations it has,” he said.
“The angle for me is that a huge population that can actually be infected has much less surveillance and much less ability to protect them. This is a real concern here.”
Moreover, building an animal reservoir by itself will opt for the ability to move between species.
“The biggest concern is that we will be dealing with the virus we have chosen to jump the host,” de Ligt said. “It’s a virus that keeps jumping if we keep choosing that trait,” de Ligt said.
What if it goes into a cow or sheep? Shall we get rid of them all?
827,000 viruses in the air
Mink farms are also ideal for spreading disease. They are cramped and closely related to thousands of animals.
“It’s no surprise that mink is also a reservoir. It’s very important that mink is not established,” Wiles said.
“Entering a population with very high density and high population levels can cause problems,” said de Ligt.
“In such a densely populated group, even a small increase in infectivity would be a very strong choice.”
Geogun said the situation emphasized and agreed to the wider dangers of close human interaction with wild and livestock.
“Why are we breeding mink in the first place? Humans work at the animal-human interface, especially with wild animals, and we also work on farms with high livestock density. We do this kind of situation in pigs. We see a lot. Pigs are susceptible to human flu and poultry flu, so they are a mixing container for new flu strains to emerge,” she said.
This also came a few days after the UN’s Department of Biodiversity estimated that there could be up to 827,000 new viruses in mammals and birds that could be transmitted to humans. Recently we have seen SARS, MERS, Ebola and now Covid-19 jump from animals to humans.
The report said, “With more than five new diseases appearing in people each year, the risk of infectious diseases is increasing rapidly, and one of them has the potential to become an epidemic.”
“The risk of pandemic arises from an exponentially increasing anthropogenic change. The unsustainable environmental exploitation of land use changes, agriculture expansion and strengthening, wildlife trade and consumption, and other factors is a natural interaction between wildlife and microbes. It disrupts and increases the action. Contact between wild animals, livestock, humans and pathogens has caused almost all pandemics.”
All of the newsroom experts agreed that full deportation was justified, but the Danish government has now withdrawn for legal and political reasons. Nevertheless, 2 million minks that are infected or at high risk of infection have already died.
“It’s not just about mutations. It’s about having another source of infiltrating humans. The point is trying to get rid of this virus. We see it happening anywhere in humans or other animals. I don’t want it,” said Wiles.
“We’re having enough time to stop it from people. The last thing we want is to get into another host. The conditions under which the mink is kept is perfect for a super spread event. Curling is difficult for moral reasons., for everything. It’s absolutely right.”