• arjun vikraman

Mutated variant of COVID linked to minks found in 214 people in Denmark

Updated: Nov 21, 2020

Arnav Mittal

7th November 2020

The COVID-19 mink variant could launch a new corona wave; experts warned Danish authorities on the discovery of a mutated coronavirus strain found in minks bred within the area, triggering a nationwide cull.

A Mink at a farm near Soroe, Denmark (Source- India Today)

After a coronavirus mutation found in animals transferred to people, Denmark has decided to destroy its mink population of up to 1.7 crores.

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said that health authorities noticed virus variants in humans and mink, which showed reduced immunity to antibodies, possibly decreasing the effectiveness of future vaccines, regarding Denmark's plans to destroy every mink in the country to contain a coronavirus mutation that had begun transmitting back to humans.

Sport and cultural events have been halted, public transit has been stopped, and regional borders have been closed in seven municipalities in northern Denmark with some 280,000 people. Only people with so-called ‘sensitive duties’ can cross municipal borders, such as security and medical experts and other authorities. In the area, authorities have begun screening residents. Restaurants must be shut as of Saturday, and school students from fifth grade and up will move to remote learning starting Monday.

"We have a huge responsibility towards our people, but we also have an even greater responsibility towards the rest of the globe with the mutation that has now been discovered." Frederiksen said to Reuters.

Denmark is the biggest producer of mink fur in the world. Since the beginning of the pandemic, coronavirus cases have also been found in mink farms of other countries like the Netherlands and Spain.

Denmark began culling crores of minks last month in the north of the country due to the outbreak, which was reported among the mink herd there. Around 216 fur farms out of 1139 in Denmark have been infected.

"In certain areas of Northern Denmark, home to a significant number of mink farms, stricter lockdown restrictions, and increased tracking measures will be enforced to control the virus", authorities said to the press.

The virus variant was reported in August and September by Kaare Moelbak of Statens Serum Institute, a public agency that tracks the COVID-19 in Denmark. No mutations have been identified since, though the number of cases itself has significantly spiked.

The mink-to-human variant's distribution illustrates the vital role that farmed mink populations can play in the ongoing transmission of SARS-CoV-2 and the crucial role of robust virus tracking, sampling, and sequencing especially in areas where such animal reservoirs are known, the WHO pointed out.

Britain has recently removed Denmark from its government's travel corridor list following the unfolding of Denmark's current events, reported the Times of India. "I realize that both people in Denmark and the wider UK public will be worried about this, which is why we have acted quickly to keep our country safe and prevent the virus from spreading to the UK", Grant Shapps, UK Transport Secretary, said.

(Source- Times of India, India Today, The Hindu, Reuters)

Edited by- Arjun Rohit Vikraman

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