SHARE
COPY LINK

MINKS

Why Denmark is culling millions of minks due to coronavirus

Up to 1.5 million minks are likely to be put down at dozens of mink farms in Denmark due to the spread of Covid-19 amongst the animals.

Why Denmark is culling millions of minks due to coronavirus
Police at a mink farm in North Jutland on October 9th. Officers entered the farm by force after the owner declined to allow his mink to be culled voluntarily. Photo: Henning Bagger/Ritzau Scanpix

As of Monday this week, coronavirus has been detected at 76 mink farms in the Nordic country, around 7 percent of all Danish mink farms. The first case of Covid-19 in Danish mink was discovered in North Jutland in June.

Subsequently, the government has recommended that all minks be put down at farms where cases are detected as well as within a 7.8-kilometre radius of the farms.

That means as many as 1.5 million minks could be euthanised due to the outbreaks, Danish news wire Ritzau has reported.

Health authorities in the country are seriously concerned about the ability of Covid-19 to be transmitted by minks.

The virus spreads very quickly between farmed mink. Newspaper Information reports that health authorities are concerned about mutations of the virus in minks that could reduce the effectiveness of a future vaccine in humans infected with mink variations of the coronavirus.

Minks are particularly susceptible to coronavirus and conditions on the farms, at which thousands of animals are packed closely in cages, enable rapid transmission and mutations in so-called “reservoirs” of the virus, according to Information’s report.

The Danish Veterinary Consortium, under the auspices of infectious diseases institute SSI and the University of Copenhagen, has warned that two new variants of Covid-19 are “particularly concerning”, Information reports.

The government has stepped up its response to mink infections as the number of affected farms has increased in October.

While all mink on affected farms were culled during the original June outbreak, this response was scaled back before being later being reinstated along with the extension to farms within a 7.8-kilometre radius of outbreaks.

A link between an infected mink farm and infections and deaths due to Covid-19 at a care home in Hjørring had been found prior to this, according to Information’s report.

The animals are normally slaughtered around November for the use of their fur.

Local politicians have called for the central government to only euthanise infected mink, citing the impact of the culling on jobs in the mink farming industry.

Municipal leaders have sent an open letter to foods minister Mogens Jensen, finance minister Nicolai Wammen and business minister Simon Kollerup.

“We mayors are in genuine fear for the continued existence of the mink industry,” the letter states according to TV Midtvest.

The mayors argued that the response risks “crushing an industry with many jobs and annual exports of around five billion (kroner)”.

Their requests include minks at farms with the 7.8-kilometre radius be initially tested for Covid-19, rather than culled.

READ ALSO: Denmark gives 120,000 influenza vaccinations in two weeks

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.

COVID-19

Did Sweden’s state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

For his supporters, it was well-deserved, for his detractors a case of failing upwards. But when Sweden's Public Health Agency announced this month that state epidemiologist Anders Tegnell was taking a job at the World Health Organisation, both sides assumed it was true.

Did Sweden's state epidemiologist really get a big job at the WHO?

Now, it seems, the job might not be there after all. 

At the start of this month, Sweden’s Public Health Agency announced that Anders Tegnell was resigning to take up a post coordinating vaccine work with the World Health Organisation in Geneva. 

“I’ve worked with vaccines for 30 years and have at the same time always been inspired by international issues,” Tegnell said in the release. “Now I will have the chance to contribute to this comprehensive international work.”

During the first and second waves of the Covid-19 pandemic, Tegnell shot immediately from obscurity into the spotlight, gaining such celebrity status in Sweden that one fan had his profile tattooed onto his arm.

Internationally he was hailed by lockdown sceptics for his reasoned arguments against overly restrictive measures to control the spread of the virus. 

His new WHO appointment was reported all over the world. 

But on Tuesday, the Svenska Daglabdet newspaper revealed that the job had not yet been awarded. A spokesperson for the WHO said at a press conference in Geneva that “there is some confusion”, and that “this is an internal question.” 

According to the newspaper, there is even “a certain level of irritation” behind the scenes at the WHO that Sweden acted too soon and dispatched Tegnell to a job that did not actually exist yet. 

“We have received an offer from Sweden, which is still under discussion,” the organisation’s press spokesperson, Fadela Chaib, told the newspaper. 

On Thursday, the Public Health Agency’s press chief Christer Janson conceded that there had been a mistake and that the negotiation had not been completed.  

“We believed it was done, but it wasn’t,” he told Expressen in an interview. “It’s been a much longer process to get this completed than we thought. There’s been a misunderstanding and we regret that.” 

SHOW COMMENTS