Dogs are our new weapon against COVID-19

Millions of mink culled over COVID

Denmark plans to cull all the farmed mink in its country as quickly as it can after outbreaks of hundreds of COVID-19 infections in the north of the nation where around half of the cases are believed to have come from the animal.

There are fears mink are spreading a mutated strain of the coronavirus, which health authorities in the country claim could stop an eventual vaccine working.

"This is extremely serious and a threat to the entire world," Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said, according to Denmark's oldest newspaper Berlingske.



Up to 17 million mink are now set for the slaughter.

Berlingske reported Denmark's infectious diseases agency the Danish State Serum Institute (DSSI) said the virus had mutated enough that a vaccine might not work, but health Minister Magnus Heunicke said there was currently no evidence that it led to more serious infections or symptoms.

The director of the University College London's Gentics Institute Francois Balloux disagreed with the DSSI.

"SARS-CoV 2 mutations in minks are not concerning," Prof Balloux wrote on Twitter.

"We already knew that SARS-CoV 2 can transmit from minks to humans, though, this should be of no concern in terms of the evolution of the transmissibility of the virus."

He said news reports on the mutation have been "idiotic" and "a typical example of all that is wrong with science and its communication in the COVID-19 era".

Denmark is still culling the mink to be safe.


Culling began in June but has now been expanded after attempts to contain the virus failed.

"Despite a dedicated effort, 207 mink farms have been infected. It has not been possible to contain the outbreak which has now spread to humans." Ms Frederiksen said.

"We need to take this extremely seriously and we intend to do everything we can to contain it and make sure that it does not spread," she added.


Ms Frederiksen said it was "a sad day" for Denmark and gave her "great sympathy" to the mink breeders.

"It is your livelihood and for some your life's work and an entire family heritage that will now be lost, and it is an important Danish export success that will now be lost," she said.

Denmark has had 52,265 cases of COVID-19 and 733 people have died, according to John Hopkins University.

Originally published as Millions of mink culled over COVID

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