New Delhi (NVI): As many as 17 million minks are to be culled in Denmark after a mutated version of the coronavirus that can spread to humans was detected on mink farms.
Denmark Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the mutated virus posed a risk to the effectiveness of a future Covid-19 vaccine.
Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink which showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of future vaccines, PM Frederiksen further said.
“We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well,” Frederiksen told a news conference.
The findings, which have been shared with the World Health Organization and the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, were based on laboratory tests by the State Serum Institute, the Danish authority dealing with infectious diseases.
In this regard, the head of the WHO’s emergencies programme, Mike Ryan, called for a full-scale scientific investigations of the complex issue of humans – outside China – infecting mink which in turn transmitted the virus back to humans.
Denmark is one of the world’s main mink fur exporters, producing an estimated 17 million furs a year. Kopenhagen Fur, a cooperative of 1,500 Danish breeders, accounts for 40 percent of the global mink production. Most of its exports go to China and Hong Kong.
Coronavirus cases have been detected in mink farms in Denmark’s northern Jutland region, and in other parts of Europe, for several months.
But cases are spreading fast in Denmark, and five cases of the new virus strain were found on mink farms. Twelve people had become infected so far.
Spain culled 100,000 minks in July after cases were detected at a farm in Aragón province, and tens of thousands of the animals were slaughtered in the Netherlands following outbreaks on farms there.
Moreover, studies are under way to find out how and why minks have been able to catch and spread the infection.