Mutated variety of coronavirus found in Danish mink
Mette Frederiksen said at a virtual news conference that the transmission of the new version of the virus from minks to humans could adversely influence the effectiveness of a future vaccine.
She said the government has informed the World Health Organization (WHO) of the development and the WHO said it is “checking on” the information.
The Danish government said the mutated virus had been transmitted from minks to humans and 12 people have been diagnosed with it so far.
“You will lose your life’s work, which in some cases has been inherited through several generations,” said Frederiksen. “It is a day of sorrow for you and everyone who works in the mink industry. The government is aware of this.”
A WHO spokesman said: "We have been informed by Denmark of a number of persons infected with the coronavirus from minks, with some genetic changes in the virus.
“The Danish authorities are investigating the epidemiological and virological significance of these findings and culling the mink population. We are in touch with them to find more about this event."
Due to their thick and dense fur, minks are highly desired in some European and other countries for clothing such as coats, but animal rights groups oppose its use.
The Danish government has pledged to compensate breeders for the loss of income and to provide full coverage for fixed costs.
The new infection was found among 207 mink farms in the country and the authorities said the minks on 67 of them had already been killed.
Danish press reports cited police estimating that around 15-17 million minks must be slaughtered. Denmark’s armed forces, the Danish Emergency Management Agency, and its Home Guard have been deployed to kill the country’s minks.
The wild European mink is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature among the critically endangered species due to an ongoing reduction in its numbers. ■