Denmark raises alert for coronavirus mutation in mink

Two weeks after launching the alert about a coronavirus mutation in hatchery minks, Denmark concluded on Thursday that this potential threat is “very likely extinct”, in the absence of new cases detected.

The strict restrictions imposed on seven North Jutland communes, with 280,000 inhabitants, will be lifted on Friday, the Danish Health Ministry announced.

But while Denmark has already euthanized more than two-thirds of its 15 million minks, it still intends for now to remove all of them to avoid any other risky mutations.

“No new case of the mutation has been detected in the mink -Cluster 5- since September 15, so the institute in charge of the control of infectious diseases (SSI) considers that it was very possibly eradicated” the ministry said Thursday.

For its part, the SSI confirmed to . that the absence of cases has been verified in both mink and humans.

Although the problem of “Cluster 5” was not identified until the beginning of November, the contagion of this strain in mink and the twelve cases in humans date back to August and September, for which the authorities consider that its transmission could have disappeared from Yes, alone.

Denmark is the world’s largest mink exporter and the second largest breeder behind China, with an annual turnover of nearly $ 800 million.

– Transmissible to humans –

But this animal, highly prized for its skin used to make luxury garments, poses problems in the fight against covid-19, since it can not only contract the disease, but also infect humans.

In an alarmist tone, the Danish Prime Minister, Mette Frederiksen, ordered the slaughter of all minks in early November.

According to the first studies, the way “Cluster 5” mutates could cause a reduced efficacy of human antibodies, thus threatening the development of a vaccine against covid-19.

In force since November 5, restrictions in seven North Jutland municipalities (on travel, closure of public transport, bars and restaurants) were originally scheduled until December 3.

The SSI has identified four other mutations that originate in mink, but they do not present the same problem as “Cluster 5”, detected in 12 people between August and September. Of these, eight were linked to the five farms where cases of this same strain were detected in mink.

The mink slaughter operation became controversial after the press recalled that it is illegal to slaughter healthy animals outside the areas where those who are sick are concentrated.

Danish Agriculture Minister Mogens Jensen announced his resignation on Wednesday, acknowledging that “mistakes” were made.

Seeking a solution to this situation, then the government introduced a bill to ban mink farming until 2022.

But although this activity will eventually become possible again in three years, few believe in its rebirth.

cbw / map / age / mb