RIO – Denmark announced this Wednesday that it will sacrifice 17 million mink (weasel-like animals raised on farms for the manufacture of coats and other fur garments) to prevent a new mutation of the Sars-CoV-2 coronavirus from harming the development of vaccines.
A preliminary study revealed that the mutation discovered in northern Denmark prevents people with Covid-19 from producing antibodies. The announcement was made by Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen. The mutation was discovered after 12 people contracted Covid-19 from mink. All animals in the country will be euthanized.
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The case reinforces the fear that the coronavirus may spread in animals, which would make it difficult to fight the pandemic. Minks have contracted Sars-CoV-2 on fur farms in the Netherlands, Spain, the United States and Denmark, the latter the largest producer in the world. The Danes had already sacrificed a million mink to contain the coronavirus, but the government decided that the measure was ineffective.
Minks were infected by humans, employees of fur farms. However, Danish scientists found that the virus mutated that allowed it to pass from mink to people.
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The 12 infected people worked on fur farms. All had Covid-19, but none were seriously ill. However, they had a poor response in the production of antibodies.
There is still much to clarify about the new mutation. It is not known why infected people did not experience more severe symptoms as they did not produce enough antibodies against the coronavirus.
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Nor were details about the mutation’s contagion capacity. But the Danish government found the mutation worrying enough not to wait any longer and risk it spreading.
– Due to the discovery of this mutation that impairs the production of antibodies against the coronavirus, a blunt action is necessary. We will have to kill all the mink. This new variant of the coronavirus carries the risk of a vaccine not working as it should – said the Danish prime minister to the British newspaper “Financial Times”.
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Kaare Molbak, one of Denmark’s most respected epidemiologists, said that the government’s decision to sacrifice all mink is a good one because “in the worst case scenario, the pandemic could start over from Denmark”.
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