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Mutations in spike putatively linked to outbreak at Danish mink farms

hCoV-19 virus genomes detected in humans in Denmark reveal mutations in the spike protein that may potentially be linked to viruses detected in mink farms. While most mutations are noted in many other human virus genomes across the globe, other mutations are more rare and their location suggests they would have limited impact on virus properties. One mutation (Y453F) was repeatedly found in mink in The Netherlands as well as in more than 300 human hCoV-19 genome sequences from across the globe.

This change may have a modest effect on interactions with the host receptor and antibodies, but given the previous circulation of viruses with these mutations in humans, they are not expected to have substantial impact on Covid-19 epidemiology and disease. If these mutations indeed prove to be linked to mink farms, it is likely that they are adaptive changes that provide an advantage to support virus infection and transmission in mink but would be unlikely provide similar advantages to the virus in humans.