Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced the plans of killing the entire mink population in Denmark, which is at 17 million and outnumbers the humans in the country by a factor of three, as per reports.
The news has caught the attention of health officials around the world after the prime minister gave a warning that certain strains of the coronavirus or COVID-19, having apparently jumped from the mink back into the humans, have developed mutations that can decrease the efficacy of any vaccines.
On Friday, the officials stated that they shared the entire genome sequence of one mink-related strain of the deadly virus, which was enough for researchers to get convinced about what the prime minister was saying. "It would be nice if it could be confirmed first in another laboratory," Eskild Petersen, who is an infectious diseases professor at the Aarhus University in Denmark mentioned in an interview. "But this is an evolving public health emergency. You have to act, and that's what the government has done," the professor added as reported by Bloomberg.
COVID-19 Mutating in Minks
The Danish officials have reportedly detected 214 cases of people infected with a mink-related strain of coronavirus. This comes after researchers completely sequenced a pool of 5,000 Danish patients samples of recent months. The officials are expecting a confirmed link to the outbreak in animals to increase in the coming weeks as they are totally analyzing over 30,000 samples from that period.
The virus strains fit in five different clusters, as per the authorities. Within those groups, seven separate mutations happened to the spike protein of the virus, the portion that sticks out of the shell of the pathogen and allows it to infect the healthy host cells.
That is important as most of the vaccine candidates target the spike of the coronavirus. The target to induce the body to increase the protective antibodies against the spike that blocks the infection. One mink-related strain of the virus had four different alterations in the spike protein genes, the officials mentioned. The virus got detected on five different mink farms in Denmark and in the sample of 12 people, only four of them were directly associated with a farm, as per the authorities.
That is one of the reasons to believe that the virus strains are transmitting from people to people. The decision to kill all of the minks in the country was expected to come for a long time as many cases were detected in mink farms.
Researchers at the Statens Serum Institute in Copenhagen got lab results that showed that a mink-related coronavirus appeared to be less affected by the coronavirus antibodies from many people who were previously infected. The institute informed that mink breeding can increase the risk of more mutations that can decrease the efficacy of vaccines. The decision to kill the entire mink population has caused an outcry in Denmark as thousands of jobs are at stake.