Health Ministry Suspects Israelis Returned from Denmark with Mink Mutated Coronavirus

Pablo Tucker
November 15, 2020

Mink in farm ownership of Stig Sørensen where all mink animals must be culled by government order on November 7, 2020 in Boarding, Denmark.

However, the Departement of Agriculture said human testing is underway. SARS-CoV-2, like all viruses, will have undergone countless changes across the world, most of which have little real effect. But with mounting evidence of mink infections spilling into human communities (the World Health Organization reports 214 human-associated cases), culls now brought into force in Denmark are sadly a necessary intervention to contain transmission.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has said minks can act as a reservoir of SARS-CoV-2, passing the virus between them, and pose a risk for virus spill-over from mink to humans, and people can then transmit this virus within the human population.

"The UK government is working closely with worldwide partners to understand the changes in the virus that have been reported in Denmark and we are conducting a programme of further research here in the UK to inform our risk assessments". Like all surveillance programmes, it said the issue will be kept under constant review.

Professor Francois Balloux, director of University College London's Genetics Institute, was also skeptical about some of the claims around this new variant found in Denmark, tweeting last week: "SARS-CoV-2 mutations acquired in minks are not concerning". For them, there is therefore a danger to Danish and global public health. "No mink have been imported into Ireland during 2020", it said. According to the Department of Agriculture, about fifty different animals-including dogs, cats, tigers, and lions-in the United States have been infected by coronavirus. There is concern from the Danish health authorities that the effectiveness of vaccines in development might be diminished by this variant. This variant, which is referred to as the "cluster 5" variant, is characterised by a combination of mutations that have not been observed previously.

The Department says it has produced awareness material in relation to COVID-19 for animal owners, including a Frequently Asked Question Document which includes advice for example in situations where an animal requires care or exercise in a household where someone has COVID-19 or is restricting their movement or self-isolating in line with HSE advice. Although the death of millions of mink - whether culled for COVID-19 or killed for fur - is an animal welfare tragedy, fur farmers will now have a clear opportunity to pivot away from this cruel and dying industry and choose a more humane and sustainable livelihood instead.

Covid-19 today affects more than 50 million people around the world. This they fear could threaten the efficacy of vaccines that are being developed across the globe.

Scientists also say that mammals like minks have a similar genetic make-up like humans, and have ACE-2 receptors, which make it easier for a virus to attack their bodies under given conditions.

Denmark plans to cull up to 17 million mink, the country's entire population, after reports that the animals could pass a coronavirus mutation to humans.

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