This Is the Only Animal We Know For Sure Can Give You COVID, Experts Say
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, first infected humans after crossing species lines from an unknown animal. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), scientists speculate that this animal was a bat, because the SARS-CoV-2 genome is closely related to coronaviruses observed in horseshoe bats in China. Until recently, this was believed to be the only incident of an animal infecting a human being with the novel coronavirus. Now, for the first time since that original transmission, we know that one more animal can transmit the coronavirus to humans: mink. Read on to learn more, and to find out how else you can catch the virus these days, check out The 4 Places You’re Most Likely to Catch COVID During the Current Wave.
The cross-species transmission between mink and humans was discovered in Denmark, where millions of mink are bred and raised for the country’s thriving fur industry. Danish officials sparked international outrage this week by announcing that they would exterminate their entire population of farmed mink—roughly 17 million animals—due to their ability to spread COVID to humans. The government has since retracted their decision after the public outcry, but hasn’t ruled it out for the future.
Researchers have explained that while mink do not seem to cause a more severe form of the illness, the virus does mutate as it’s passed between animals and humans. They fear that the particulars of these mutations could thwart the efficacy of vaccines, throwing progress into jeopardy.
As The New York Times explains, “Danish health authorities were concerned that one set of mutations in a variant of the virus called cluster 5, which had infected at least 12 people, could make a potential coronavirus vaccine less effective. One of the mutations occurs on a part of the virus—the spike protein—that is targeted by many potential vaccines. In lab studies, cells with this variant of the virus were exposed to antibodies, which did not act as strongly as they had with other coronavirus variants.”
Whether or not the mink mutation affects vaccine development remains to be seen, but it’s already affected daily life in Denmark. As NPR reports, over a quarter of a million Danish citizens were put on COVID lockdown when the mutation was discovered in mink. Read on for more on animals that can contract COVID, and for an update on how different areas of the U.S. are responding to COVID, check out These States Are Starting to Lock Down Again.
Read the original article on Best Life.