Monday, December 07, 2020

Denmark SSI: Increased Mink Variant COVID In Human Population - COVID Risk Assessment

Credit ECDC


Two days ago, in WHO 2nd Update: SARS-CoV-2 mink-associated variant strain – Denmark, we learned that at least 2 more mink-variant COVID strains have been reported in humans in Denmark. 

While the impact these mutated strains will have - if any - on the pandemic are unknown - they are a legitimate concern - and their incidence is only expected to increase over time.

Citing progress in reducing the number of COVID infections among mink breeders, today Denmark's Statens Serum Institute (SSI) also announced an increased percentage of mink-variant strains detected in the general population, and in areas outside of the initial epicenter (North Jutland).

First the (translated) statement (and link to the full report) from the SSI, followed by an updated Risk Assessment for Denmark over the upcoming holidays. 

Decrease in infection among mink breeders, but higher proportion of mink-related covid-19 in society

There has been a marked decrease in the number of people related to mink production who are infected with SARS-CoV-2. In turn, the mink variant of SARS-CoV-2 fills more of society.
Last edited December 7, 2020

After a few weeks with many new infected persons residing on mink farms (production or owner addresses), where as many as 8% (260 persons) were tested positive during weeks 46 and 47, there has been a marked decrease in the number of persons residing on mink farms infected with SARS-CoV-2. It shows the latest note on the situation from the Statens Serum Institut (SSI).
Development in infected persons associated with mink production

According to the memo, the number of new infected persons associated with mink production fell to 28 in week 48 against 138 in week 47. Of the 28 infected, 3 were in the North Jutland Region, 10 in the Central Jutland Region and 12 in the Southern Denmark Region.

Finally, there were 3 covid-19 infected with connections to the same mink herd in Region Zealand.
Infection of fur series

Some of the new infected are not associated with covid-19 infected mink herds or mink herds in the killing zone. According to SSI, this means that there may have been SARS-CoV-2 in some of the herds that were not subject to restrictions.

"Therefore, there may be breeding animals left on these herds, as well as killed mink for fur that have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 at the time they were killed," says department head Tyra Grove Krause from SSI. She continues:

“As a result, staff at the fur series may have been exposed to infection. That could explain why there have been covid-19 outbreaks on six large and two smaller fur series. But that, of course, is just one of several possible causes that are currently being investigated. ”

According to the memo, the covid-19 outbreaks on the eight fur series include 338 infected people, and the Danish Agency for Patient Safety has this afternoon stated that this number has now increased to 402 infected people. The eight outbreaks are currently being investigated by SSI's outbreak team, and it is expected that there will be sequence results related to the outbreaks on fur series in the coming weeks.

SARS-CoV-2 and mink variant in the community
In North Jutland, the number of detected cases of SARS-CoV-2 in society has fallen from 817 in week 44 to 268 in week 48. At the same time, however, the proportion of cases with the mink variant has increased from 17% in week 44 to 31% in week 47.

In In the Central Jutland Region, the number of newly detected SARS-CoV-2 cases has fallen slightly from 1,720 new cases in week 47 to 1,528 in week 48. Of these, mink variants accounted for 31% in week 46 and 32% in week 47.

In the Region of Southern Denmark, the number of SARS-CoV-2 cases also decreased slightly from 1,454 new cases in week 47 to 1,296 new cases in week 48. Of these, mink variants of SARS-CoV-2 accounted for 11% in week 46 and 21% in week 47.

“However, the proportion of mink-related cases of covid-19 is probably underestimated in the region, as there have been examples of infection with new virus types that are not closely related to the mink variant. We do not yet know the extent of these types, because we are currently working to include these in our analyzes, ”says Tyra Grove Krause.

Click here to view all SSI's notes on mink .

Risk assessment of the national development of covid-19 until Christmas 2020

Number of daily cases of covid-19, 20 March to 3 December 2020, number of cases adjusted to 80,000 daily tests and projection of the development 23 November to 23 December 2020

The Statens Serum Institut has prepared a simple projection of the epidemic until 23 December. It points out that the epidemic may reach a level at or above its previous peak around 1 April. The development is worrying, so SSI recommends further restrictions to limit the infection.Last edited December 7, 2020

In recent weeks, the incidence of covid-19 cases has increased markedly. For the last seven days, it is thus up to 188 cases per. 100,000 inhabitants.

Therefore, the Statens Serum Institut (SSI) has prepared a simple projection of the epidemic until 23 December 2020. The projection is based on data from 23 November to 5 December, where an exponential growth has been seen with a daily increase in covid -19 cases of approximately 4%, corresponding to a contact number of 1.2.

If the epidemic is projected in this way, SSI estimates that towards Christmas we will reach a level in the epidemic that corresponds to or exceeds the previous peak around 1 April 2020.

As I said, this is a simple projection that, among other things, does not take into account geographical variation and the initiatives that have already been announced in relation to 17 municipalities in the Capital Region and Elsinore. In addition, there are a number of other reservations.

But even with these limitations, SSI concludes that the development is worrying, as there are prospects for an increased number of inpatients with covid-19 during the Christmas week, risk of further spread to nursing homes and other institutions, and risk of increasing mortality. Therefore, SSI recommends further restrictions.