ISA Tests Used In Faroese Covid-19 Fight

TESTS used to detect ISA (Infectious Salmon Anaemia) are being successfully used in the Faroe islands in the fight against Covid-19, it has been revealed. The results so far are encouraging, but not conclusive.

ISA is a marine virus that can lead to disease in salmon (and, occasionally trout) and hits many fish farms from time to time. However, it does not affect humans.

The Faroe Islands had bitter experience of this anaemia 20 years ago when it almost wiped out its fish farming industry. Fish farmers and scientists subsequently spent five years and a lot of money on the rigorous state-of-the-art testing of various antidotes with the result that it is now one of the best equipped countries in the world in the fight against ISA.

Now its scientists are adopting the same techniques on its Covid-19 sufferers, using a lot of equipment from the salmon testing experiment many years ago. Up to last weekend the Faroe Islands had tested 8.3 per cent of the population, which found that 173 people had shown positive for coronavirus with no deaths. Nearby Denmark, however, had only tested 0.4 per cent of the population but had 3,000 cases and over 100 deaths.

Debes Hammershaimb Christiansen from the Danish Food Inspection told the broadcaster DR:

‘Whether it is a sample from a salmon or a sample from a human, it does not matter medically. So with an adjustment of old test tools – originally used on salmon – the Faroe Islands have managed to check the spread of the epidemic’.

Shahin Gaini, a specialist at the Landshospital hospital in the Faroe Islands, said:

‘When you test as many people as possible, you identify those who have viruses, which allows you to stop the chain of infection. We have managed to get the infection down to 1.3 per cent and that is actually low.’