Denmark orders that all mink in the country be put down due to coronavirus mutation

Well this is chilling. There’s a coronavirus mutation detected in Denmark that scientists say is more resistant to antibiotics and could spur a new pandemic. Vaccines in the pipeline for Covid-19 would be ineffective against this mutation. It’s spreading through the mink population in Denmark, the world’s largest exporter of mink, and has been found in over 200 people. As a result the Danish government is implementing new restrictions and ordering that the entire commercial mink population in the country be euthanized. Here’s some of the story, from The Guardian:

A Danish vaccine specialist has warned that a new wave of coronavirus could be started by the Covid-19 mink variant.

“The worst-case scenario is that we would start off a new pandemic in Denmark. There’s a risk that this mutated virus is so different from the others that we’d have to put new things in a vaccine and therefore [the mutation] would slam us all in the whole world back to the start,” said Prof Kåre Mølbak, vaccine expert and director of infectious diseases at Denmark’s State Serum Institute (SSI).

He added, however, that the world was in a better place than when the Covid-19 outbreak began. “We know the virus, have measures in place including testing and infection control, and the outbreak will be contained, to the best of our knowledge.”

Denmark, the world’s largest mink producer, said on Wednesday that it plans to cull more than 15 million of the animals, due to fears that a Covid-19 mutation moving from mink to humans could jeopardise future vaccines.

Announcing the cull, the country’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, said 12 people were already infected [Ed note: this has been updated to over 200, see above] with the mutated virus and mink are now considered a public health risk, based on advice from the SSI.

Prof Allan Randrup Thomsen, a virologist at the University of Copenhagen, went further, telling the Guardian on Thursday that while Denmark was not “on the verge of being the next Wuhan” there were risks.

“This variant can develop further, so that it becomes completely resistant, and then a vaccine does not matter. Therefore, we need to take [the mutation] out of the equation. So it’s serious.”

In interviews with Danish media, Thomsen advised shutting down northern Denmark due to the risks from mink farms, a task made easier by the Limfjord, which cuts across northern Jutland.

Although bridges across the fjord remain open, all restaurants, pubs, cafes and sports activities in the area will close shortly.

[From The Guardian]

While I don’t care much about the fur industry and find it barbaric, I did feel bad for the Danish mink worker interviewed in the Canadian news video below. (It’s less than two minutes if you want to watch it.) His entire mink population will have to be put down and that must be devastating. This is the right thing to do and I’m so glad that the Danish government is on top of it. Can you imagine if a new mutation was discovered in America, in poultry farms for example? They would cover it up, lie about it and get the Republicans to defend them. We already saw the virus affect the workers in poultry packing plants. It would be an absolute disaster. The pandemic and Trump administration have exposed all the ugly cracks in our system, a house of cards cobbled together with the paper mache of white supremacy and oppression. The current government is actively trying to kill people, but at least other countries are listening to the scientists and doing their best. Fingers crossed we’ll be on the other side of this pandemic in 2021.

This is Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s Prime Minister.

Also, mink are cute and I feel sorry for them. The International Humane society supports the Danish government’s decision.

Photos via Mette Fredericksen on Instagram and credit: Azyl dla Norek and Mike Kestell on Flickr. Used by Creative Commons license

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