Nearly half of Denmark is put under a lockdown after the health authorities identified a new genetically modified coronavirus strain that was identified in people who got it from ‘minks’. According to the health authorities, these genetic changes in this mink-related coronavirus help to develop a better Covid-19 vaccine for the future.
At least 200 people have been reportedly infected with this new type of mink-related coronavirus in Denmark. United Kingdom has put a ban on every passenger coming to the UK from Denmark and is deeply concerned over this new version of coronavirus.
The Danish researchers are able to identify one particular strain of coronavirus which is reported in 12 cases. This new mink-related coronavirus strain is not much sensitive towards the antibodies which might be a problem for the Covid vaccines which are already in their final phase of trials.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has also shared concerns over this newly identified strain, emphasizing the need to study this variant in detail before predicting the fate of Covid treatments and vaccines. Right now, this whole situation is preliminary and there is not much information on the basis of which, the meaningful outcome can be established. Whether or not this new version of coronavirus can be dealt with the coronavirus vaccine has no answer, as to now.
All viruses tend to mutate and if the coronavirus is mutating, it is not something that no one expected. It is normal for the viruses to change and mutate as per environmental changes and maturation. There is no information about this new mink-related coronavirus being more deadly or threatening for the public, more than the original coronavirus strain.
Although this appearance of a new strain of coronavirus is worrisome the picture is not complete yet. It is hard to determine the situation without studying the virus completely. Whenever any virus is transmitted among different animals, there are high chances of it to mutate. At that point when it reaches humans again, after spreading in different animals, there is a possibility that the existing vaccine will prove ineffective against it. It means, treating this new variant would require new medicines, tools, and even a modified vaccine.
Minks and all close species to the minks such as ferrets are able to carry respiratory viruses like coronavirus. Understanding this whole situation is tricky. Coronavirus originally came from a different animal, most probably a bat to the humans. Or if there was another host-associated between this transmission, there is no information available on that. But this bat to human transmission initiated a whole pandemic killing thousands of people.
But how did these minks ended up having coronavirus? Reportedly, the mink farmworkers gave this infection to the minks. In a few cases, this transmission backfired and some of the workers got the virus from infected minks. But this new version of the virus had some genetic modifications which made it different from the original coronavirus.
These mutations include the spikey proteins on the virus structure which is basically one of the key targets of a Covid-19 vaccine. But if these proteins are mutated, it means that the vaccine which targets the original proteins will be ineffective against these new mink-related coronavirus strains.
In that case, the large scale production of coronavirus vaccine will fail to save people from the virus. But it is only true for the cases where the culprit is this mink associated virus. In other cases where the pathogen is the original coronavirus, vaccines will be able to provide full protection.