SARS-CoV-2 is a virus that causes a disease, known as COVID-19, which has affected millions worldwide, resulting in a global pandemic. This virus has been hosted by minks (and other animals) for years. SARS-CoV-2 mutated from farmed mink to infect humans, which wasn’t possible before the mutation in the spike protein. The point of mutation also happens to be the site of attack from antibodies.It is believed that mutated variant having altered biological features, has been formed in minks, making them a steady source of infection to humans.
Animal to human transmission resulted in a pandemic, that started in Chine in December of 2019. Dutch scientists observed in the year 2020 when, mutated SARS-CoV-2 from humans, infected farmed minks, where primarily the mink was the primary source of infection to farmers and got re-infected. They furthermore became the source of spread back to humans. Resultantly millions of farmed minks were killed to keep novel mutated variants from spreading.
German researchers at Leibniz Institute for Primate Research in Göttingen found that coronavirus can get mutated in farmed minks that limitsthe control over the virus by the human immune system. They reported that the antibody used against coronavirus is not effective in the mink mutated SARS-CoV-2 variant. The spike mutation acquired by farmed minks also lowered the inhibition of the virus by antibodies against SARS-CoV-2. They used an antibody cocktail for COVID-19 therapy from which one of two antibodies was not efficient in inhibiting the mutated (Y453F) viral variant. This new mutation also limits the inhibition of the virus by antibodies, which suggests that those people who have acquired SARS-CoV-2 will have reduced protection against the mutated mink variant.
Researchers found that the mutation of SARS-CoV-2 in minks can reduce the protection against the mink variant of the virus. The effects of mutation in other animals that host coronavirus, is yet to be studied. When the mutation keeps happening, the immuno compromised patients can give rise to a resistant variant, and that resistance-mediating mutation is identical to the one observed in mink. Further studies should use authentic SARS-CoV-2 (unlike pseudo typed particles, used in this study). Also, viral inhibition by T cells should be studied for the mutated virus.
In short, the findings of the above study suggest that the mutation of coronavirus in mink can let the virus acquire a mutation that can compromise the control of virus by the humoral immune response in human, consequently, cross-infection in minks (and other animals) should be prohibited and monitored in the wild or domesticated animals.
SARS-CoV-2, Coronavirus, mink mutated coronavirus, Y453F mutation, pandemic, infectious disease.