Denmark and the United States are among six countries that have reported new coronavirus cases related to mink farming, according to the World Health Organization.
Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden are the other nations that have discovered SARS-CoV-2 in minks, the WHO said in a statement.
Denmark imposed tough measures on the north of the country after warning that a mutation in the virus had leapt from mink to humans and infected 12 people.
Copenhagen has warned that the mutation could jeopardize the effectiveness of a future vaccine and has ordered the slaughter of all an estimated 15 to 17 million minks in the country.
Britain on Saturday banned all non-resident foreigners from Denmark after the mutation linked to mink farming was found in humans.
Scientists say that viral mutations are common and often harmless, and that these do not cause more serious illness in humans.
However, the Danish health authorities have raised concerns that this strain, known as “Cluster 5”, is not being inhibited to the same degree as the normal virus by antibodies that they fear may compromise the effectiveness of vaccines being developed around the world.
“Initial observations suggest that the clinical appearance, severity and transmission among the infected are similar to those of other circulating SARS-CoV-2 viruses,” said the WHO statement on Friday.
“This variant … the ‘Cluster 5’ variant, however, had a combination of mutations or changes that were not previously observed. The effects of the identified changes in this variant are not yet well understood,” warned the WHO.
The UN agency said preliminary results showed that this mink-associated variant “moderately decreased susceptibility to neutralizing antibodies”.
The WHO called for further studies to review the preliminary results and “understand the potential impact of this finding on diagnostics, therapeutics and vaccines in development”.
“Although the virus is believed to be associated with bats, its origin and intermediate host (s) of SARS-CoV-2 have not yet been identified,” the WHO noted.
As of June 2020, 214 human cases of COVID-19 with SARS-CoV-2 variants related to mink have been identified in Denmark, including 12 cases with a unique variant that were reported on November 5th.
(Except for the headline, this story was not edited by GossipMantri staff and published from a syndicated feed.)