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WHO reviews biosecurity after mink infections

They prepare minks to be slaughtered on a farm in Denmark. Photo: Reuters


The World Health Organization (WHO) reported yesterday that it is analyzing biosecurity in countries where there are mink farms after Denmark ordered the sacrifice of millions of mink specimens nationwide due to a widespread outbreak of coronavirus among them.

Danish health authorities are investigating about 200 cases of coronavirus apparently derived from mutations transmitted through mink, mostly in the North Jutland region, where most of the mink farms are located.

The Statens Serum Institut estimated the number of infections detected and linked to five different variants at 214. One of them is especially harmful, limiting the human’s ability to create antibodies and can render future covid-19 vaccines ineffective.

Maria van Kerkhove, WHO technical chief for covid-19, said that animal-human transmission of the virus is “a concern.” The risk is much lower in animals other than mink, added another expert.

We are working with the regional offices (…) where there are mink farms, and looking at biosecurity to avoid collateral effects, ”Van Kerkhove told a WHO press conference in Geneva.

He stressed that “it is too early” to know the consequences of the SARS-COV-2 mutation found in Danish mink.

It is too early to draw conclusions about the implications of this specific mutation, be it for transmission, the severity of the disease or for the immune response and the potential efficacy of a vaccine, ”said, for her part, the chief scientist of the WHO, Soumya Swaminathan.

WHO experts have clarified that virus mutations are common and that SARS-CoV-2 has already experienced several since it began to circulate at the end of 2019, but none have changed behavior.

You have to understand that this kind of thing happens. This is a pandemic and millions of people, as well as millions of animals, have been exposed to the virus “, stressed the director of Emergencies of the WHO, Michael Ryan.

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