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Denmark to cull millions of minks over mutated coronavirus

Denmark, the world's biggest producer of mink fur, said Wednesday it would cull all of the country's minks after a mutated version of the new coronavirus was detected at its mink farms and had spread to people.

Denmark to cull millions of minks over mutated coronavirus
Mink at a farm in Gjøl, North Jutland, in a photo taken last month. Photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The mutation “could pose a risk that future (coronavirus) vaccines won't work the way they should,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference, adding: “It is necessary to cull all the minks.”

“The mutated virus could thereby have serious negative consequences for the whole world’s response to the ongoing pandemic,” she said.

Danish police estimated that between 15 and 17 million minks would need to be put down.

Twelve people are currently registered as infected with a mutated form of the coronavirus in Denmark, according to news wire Ritzau. The mutated virus is reported to respond weakly to antibodies.

Denmark’s mink industry is the largest of its kind in the world, normally producing 12-13 million skins annually.

Coronavirus has been detected at 207 Danish mink farms, Frederiksen said.

The emergency measure would effectively halt the industry for a number of years, the PM admitted.

The armed forces and fire services will be involved in culling the animals, she said.

READ ALSO: Why Denmark is culling millions of minks due to coronavirus

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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.” 

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