Denmark and the United States are among six countries that have reported new coronavirus cases linked to mink farms, the World Health Organization says.
Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Sweden are the other nations to have discovered SARS-CoV-2 in minks, WHO says in a statement.
Denmark has imposed strict measures on the north of the country after warning that a mutation of the virus had jumped from minks to humans and infected 12 people.
Copenhagen has warned the mutation could threaten the effectiveness of any future vaccine and has ordered the slaughter of all the estimated 15-17 million minks in the country.
Source: AFP via TOI
“Denmark is to slaughter its entire population of 17 million farmed mink after more than 200 people were confirmed to have been infected with a mutant strain of coronavirus that is believed to have originated when SARS-CoV-2 jumped from humans to mink earlier in the year.”
The outbreak has led Denmark to seal off seven areas in the north of the country today affecting about 280,000 people, almost 5% of the Danish population, and involves the closure of public transport into and out of North Jutland, where many of the country’s more than 1,100 fur farms are located. Schools, bars, restaurants, museums, libraries, swimming pools and gyms were ordered to shut for at least four weeks.
Denmark, one of the world’s largest producers of mink pelts, announced on Wednesday that it would cull its entire mink population of up to 17 million animals “after the virus jumped from mink to humans.”
More than 200 people are confirmed to have been infected with a new mutant strain of coronavirus that has spread from farmed mink in Denmark to humans, potentially limiting the effectiveness of a future vaccine.
Mette Frederiksen, Denmark’s prime minister, urged the more than 250,000 people placed under stringent new quarantine restrictions to try to control the spread of the mutated virus to adhere to the rules, warning her compatriots that the “eyes of the world are on us”.
Ms Frederiksen said that the government had a duty to act out of responsibility for both the Danish population and the rest of the world after it confirmed that 214 people had been identified as having the mutated form of the virus. It is thought that the mink had caught the original form of COVID-19, and then transmitted the mutated form back to humans.
The extreme containment measures are not related to the severity of the illness but to fears of its impact on a vaccine.
The Danish Government has said there is no sign yet that the mutant strain causes worse symptoms than the main COVID-19 virus type.
The main concern is that the mink mutation diverges more than other mutations seen so far, posing the risk that vaccinations under development around the world may not work on it.
The culling of an entire captive population of millions of animals to try to rescue the vaccine effort is perhaps the clearest sign yet that the war against Covid is a battle against nature and the inescapable reality that human beings are biological creatures. It is a basic biological fact that viruses mutate and jump from animals to humans and back frequently. Most of the time we don’t notice because nothing harmful comes of it, or the pathogen becomes just one more cause of cold or flu (one of the reasons we keep getting colds, not because we don’t develop lasting resistance to each strain).
If SARS-CoV-2 has already jumped to mink and back (and of course we don’t yet know that this is what has happened), what’s to stop it doing it again and again and again, with different species or the same species? Are we going to slaughter every animal population when this common natural event occurs? Are we going to stay away from all those “filthy animals” so no one ever catches any more colds from them?
Ordinarily this kind of thing would be a non-event, not even noticed, unless the new strain happened to be unusually virulent. It’s only become a major situation, accompanied by lockdowns and culls, because of the threat to the Covid vaccine project – despite the fact that the vaccines are not being developed to prevent transmission or lower risk of death. What a terrible waste of money and life.
Yet another reminder that you can’t defeat a virus, you can only build up immunity to it in the safest way available.
Source: Lockdown Sceptics