COMMENT ON THE NEWS: I am speculating but I think it’s reasonable to do so. Are we going to have to inoculate our companion animals against Covid-19 in order to prevent mutations developing in what might be described as a reservoir for the disease?
I’ll explain what I mean. In America, about 120 black-footed ferrets, a highly endangered mammal in North America, have been inoculated against Covid-19 in order to prevent a potential reservoir of a mutated version of the disease developing in these animals. I presume that they used the vaccines designed for humans.
PLEASE DO NOT ABANDON YOUR CAT FOR A FEAR OF COVID-19 TRANSMISSION. In this article I am speculating. I’m just thinking aloud. There is no suggestion at the moment that anybody should inoculate their domestic cats but in the future it may happen. It is essential that cat owners do nothing silly. Just look after your cat properly until any information comes out.
Cory Casper, of the Infectious Disease Research Institute in Seattle told the Denver Post, “For contagious respiratory viruses, it’s really important to be mindful of the animal reservoir. If the virus returns to the animal host and mutates in such a way that it could be reintroduced to humans, then the humans would no longer have that immunity.”
The statement indicates that animals can form a reservoir for a mutated variant of the disease. This is a new potential barrier to controlling it. The world is hanging on the hope that the speedy inoculation of huge numbers of people will quell the virus. Speed is essential but it has been a slow start. The whole process needs to be ramped up.
There are fears that the South African mutation may be vaccine resistant to a certain extent. The UK mutation appears to be less dangerous in this regard. Research is being carried out at Porton Down in the UK to find out whether the current vaccines are equally effective against the mutated virus as they are against the first variant of the virus.
We know that wild cats can get the disease from humans because this happened to tigers in the Bronx zoo in New York City. They caught the disease from zookeepers. We also know that domestic cats can get the disease from their owners and people living in the same place as the cats. It’s happened but the numbers have been incredibly low (as reported) and the cats are pretty well asymptomatic or they have very mild symptoms. But we don’t know the infection rate of domestic animals.
But this disease is zoonotic. This means that it can transfer from animals to people and people to animals. It can infect animals and humans. To the best of my knowledge there’s been no study to work out whether domestic animals can transfer the disease to people although in theory they can, or whether it is happened. I can foresee a time in the future, and I don’t want to be a scaremonger, when governments consider inoculating companion animals to prevent a mutated reservoir building up. I would expect this to happen, if it happens at all, in late 2022 after sufficient humans have been inoculated.
As a postscript, a team from the World Health Organisation are currently in China investigating the source of the disease. The Chinese government delayed the research and they have placed restrictions on the team’s activities although they claim that they haven’t. The wet market where it is thought the disease started has been thoroughly cleaned and boarded up. Conspiracy theorists say that it started in the Wuhan bio lab but there is currently no evidence to support that. Many expect the investigation to be a whitewash or at best a failure because of its delay and what appears to be a cover-up by China.
Some more about the mutations
I have some more information about the mutation of the coronavirus courtesy The Times. The South African strain has a mutation called N501Y. They say that “one bead – an individual letter of the spike’s genetic code – has changed, slightly altering its shape”. There is a lot of online discussion at the moment on the possibility that the South African mutation may defeat the current vaccines because the change is more profound.
Th mutation happens when the virus replicates and an error is made. It is said that it makes the spike stickier and therefore more capable of locking onto a cell in the sufferer’s body. It is these spikes which lock onto the cell and are the key to its access into the cell which it destroys. This is what makes the person ill.
There are apparently two more spike mutations that are worrying. One is labelled K417N and the other is labelled E484K. The third one has been shown to make some antibodies less effective against the spike. The other apparently prevents a certain type of antibody working as well. Therefore these may be resistant to the vaccines. The concern is that the mutated variants might blunt the effectiveness of the current vaccines. Perhaps the vaccines may have to be modified but I’m told that the people who make the vaccines can modify them fairly straightforwardly and therefore tailor them to the mutation.
The Covid-19 virus’s spike is a protein made up of 3,000 beads. The chain of beads folds itself into a complex three-dimensional structure called a spike. Its shape is important as it allows it to lock onto and enter human cells. As mentioned it works like a key and the spike must fit the receptor on the cell called, Ace2.
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