Mutated strain of coronavirus ‘can jump back and forth’

By Helen Briggs
BBC Environment correspondent

Publishedduration2 hours agoRelated Topics

  • Coronavirus pandemic

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A new coronavirus strain could potentially leap to other animals, such as rats, mice, ferrets and voles, an expert has warned.

The virus could then "come back in future years into the human population", said Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust.

His comments came amid new warnings about the virus's evolution in mink.

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said mink-to-human transmission could occur.

And continued spread of coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) in mink farms may eventually give rise to other mutated strains, or variants, "of concern".

Further assessment was needed to assess whether mutated forms of the virus might hinder the effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, a new report concluded.

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Nikolaus Kriz of the European Food Safety Authority, which contributed to the report, said: "While the risk of cross-border spread of these Sars-CoV-2 variants through animals and their products is very low, it is important that people avoid close contact with farmed mink.

"Additional surveillance measures are necessary to limit further spread."