Coronavirus warning as fears new mink mutation may be resistant to vaccines

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One mutation from the Danish mink farm, called cluster 5, is particularly worrying. The Statens Serum Institut (SSI) in Copenhagen has said this cluster could mean the antibodies against the non-mutated virus that would be provided by a vaccine may be less effective against the cluster 5 mink-variant. A statement released by the Statens Serum Institut said: “Preliminary studies suggest that this virus from cluster 5 exhibits decreased susceptibility to antibodies from more individuals with past infection compared to a non-mutated virus.

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“This finding is of concern as it could potentially have an impact on the future of a COVID-19 vaccine against infection with this and other new mink variants.

“Before the concerns that there may be decreased susceptibility to antibodies from vaccines were of a theoretical nature.

“However, this concern has now become real after the trials that SSI first had results of on Monday, November 2nd.”

The Danish institute also said the resistance of the new strain to current anti-bodies, “has been demonstrated in laboratory experiments, where it is seen that the particular mink virus is not inhibited to the same degree by antibodies from humans who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 compared to other non-mutated SARS-CoV-2 viruses.

The statement added: “The immunity obtained by vaccination or past infection are at risk of being weakened or absent.

The current study by the SSI has not yet been peer-reviewed.

It comes as an “alert” letter from the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency was sent to every GP’s surgery in the country.

The letter spoke about the mink-variant coronavirus identified in Denmark as having seven unique mutations.

It added, “based on initial investigations, virus from this cluster demonstrated less sensitivity for neutralising antibodies when tested against antibodies collected from people with previous SARS-CoV-2 infection.”

The Government is trying to stop the mink-variant coronavirus from entering and spreading in the UK.

Yesterday, Health Secretary Matt Hancock said the mutated strain of coronavirus from Danish mink would have “grave consequences” for combating coronavirus.

Mr Hancock said the new mink-variant of the virus was a “significant development”.

He announced to MPs in the Commons the mink-variant “did not fully respond to Covid-19 antibodies”.

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The letter sent to GP surgeries added there have been “five clusters, comprising 214 people, of different mink-variant SARS-CoV-2 viruses have been identified in Denmark, primarily in the North Jutland region.

“On 4 October 2020, Danish authorities reported that sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 isolates from affected mink farms had identified seven unique mutations within these mink-variant viruses.”

The alert letter contained immediate actions that the NHS requires doctors to do in response to the mink-variant SARS-CoV-2 virus in Denmark.

It comes amid a breakthrough in the development of a potential coronavirus vaccine with a jab by Pfizer found to be 90 percent effective.

However, data collated to develop the Pfizer vaccine still needs to be peer-reviewed and published in a medical journal.

In the development of the new vaccine, 94 participants developed covid out of a trial of 44,000 people.

Of those trialled 22,000 were given the vaccine and 22,000 received a placebo.

Of those that contracted coronavirus only nine had been given the vaccine, the rest were given a placebo.

Referring to the mink-strain’s possible resistance to a new coronavirus vaccine a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “There are no confirmed cases of the mink strain of SARS-CoV-2 in England.

“We are working closely with international partners to understand the situation in Denmark and we continue to keep the situation under review.”

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