Mink of Denmark celebrates ‘Black Day’ for farmers, plans tight COVID lockdown


COPENHAGEN (Reuters) – Denmark’s mink industry suffered an economic collapse after health officials discovered a mutant coronavirus virus in animals and people, promoting a nationwide sluggish and stringent lockdown measures in the north of the country.

Minks were spotted at Hans Heinrich Jepsen’s farm near Soro following the government’s decision to eliminate its entire herd due to coronovirus disease (COVID-19), Denmark on November 5, 2020.

The government said on Wednesday that it would wipe out all mink up to 17 million – to prevent human contagion with a mutated coronavirus, which officials said could be more resistant against future vaccines.

The industry association for Danish mink breeders called for the move, which could cost more than $ 800 million, to be “a black day for Denmark”, and said the government’s decision would kill for the country’s melt industry. happened.

“Of course, we should not cause a new epidemic. We do not know the professional basis for this assessment and risk … but the government’s decision is a disaster for the industry and Denmark. ‘

In 2019, the mink industry, which employs about 4,000 people, exports around $ 800 million worth of mink skins, totaling around 24.5 million pelts, according to Statistics Denmark.

At his family-owned mink farm west of the capital Copenhagen, 34-year-old Hans Heinrich Jeppesen said he was devastated by the decision.

“This is a very sad situation for me and my family,” he told Reuters. 36,000 minks of Jepsen have not been infected, but will be blunt and foreskin within the next 10 days.

Some MPs demanded to see the evidence behind such drastic action.

A spokesperson for the Liberal Party told broadcaster TV2 on Wednesday, “We are asking to send it to (the evidence), so we can assess the technical basis.”

More conclusions

Outbreaks in mink farms have maintained Denmark, Europe’s largest producer and exporter of mink furs, despite repeated attempts to catch infected animals since June.

Animal rights groups welcomed the government’s decision, and what they said was a general ban for an “old” industry.

“Although fur farming is not banned, the move signals the end of misery for millions of animals confined to small wire cages on Danish fur farms,” ​​said Joanna Swebe of the Humane Society International.

In northern Denmark, municipalities for most of the country’s mink farms will face restrictions on movement on county lines, while restaurants and bars will be forced to close, the Mayor of Westheimerland Municipality, Per Lauchsen said.

The Ministry of Health declined to comment, but the government hopes to announce several new measures to deal with the new virus strain later on Thursday.

Future risk

In a report published on Wednesday, the State Serum Institute (SSI), the authority dealing with infectious diseases, said laboratory tests showed that the new strain had a mutation on its so-called spike protein, a part of the virus that is found on healthy cells Attacks and infects.

SSI stated that there is a risk of COVID-19 vaccines in the future, which are based on neutralizing spike proteins.

Ian Jones, a virology professor at Britain’s University of Reading, said the virus would be expected to mutate into new species.

“It must adapt to be able to use mink receptors to enter cells and therefore will be able to modify the spike protein so that it can occur efficiently”.

“The danger is that the mutated virus can again spread to humans and evade a response to any vaccine that would have been designed for the original, non-mutated version of the spike protein and the mink-adapted version.”

Danish officials said five cases of the new virus strain were reported on mink farms and 12 cases on humans.

James Wood, a professor of veterinary medicine at the University of Cambridge, said that the precautionary decision to take precautions for Denmark was wise and consistent with the action taken earlier in the year by Dutch authorities.

However, he stated that the true implications of the change in spike proteins have not yet been fully assessed by scientists.

“It is too early to say that the change will cause vaccines or immunity to fail,” he said.

Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard; Additional reporting by Kate Kelland in London, Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen in Copenhagen and Anthony Dictionary in Amsterdam; Editing by Mike Collett-White

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