The Danish government has revealed plans to kill millions of mink, due to concerns of coronavirus infections
In 2019, you may have watched movies like The Day After Tomorrow, Outbreak, Contagion, or The War of the Worlds and thought to yourself, “wow, like that would ever happen.” Cut to the hell that is 2020, when even the most horrific end-of-the-world movies don’t seem too far-fetched. And because 2020 — which includes a deadly pandemic, social and racial unrest, and a shit-show of an election — doesn’t have any intention of quitting, we bring you another unbelievably tragic story. The Danish government revealed on Wednesday plans to slaughter millions of mink, due to concerns that they are infected with a mutated strain of COVID-19, that could potentially interfere with a human vaccine.
Per Reuters, the Danish government will slaughter millions of mink at more than 1,000 farms, citing concerns that a mutation in the novel coronavirus that has infected the mink could possibly interfere with the effectiveness of a vaccine for humans.
Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced during a news conference that there are a whopping 15 million-plus of the furry animals in Denmark, which happens to be one of the leading exporters of the expensive fur that rich people like to wear wrapped around their necks and on their bodies.
According to the country, there are reports of humans becoming infected with the deadly virus directly from the animals. Their solution: the armed forces — including the army, police, and national emergency service will “cull” (a more dignified term to describe slaughter or eradicate) the mink.
“We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well,” Frederiksen said during the news conference. “The mutated virus in mink may pose a risk to the effectiveness of a future vaccine.”
The government notified the World Health Organization of the virus mutation, which they have identified in 12 people in the Jutland region, claiming the mutated virus weakly responds to antibodies.
“We have been informed by Denmark of a number of persons infected with coronavirus from mink, with some genetic changes in the virus,” WHO said in a statement to Reuters. “The Danish authorities are investigating the epidemiological and virological significance of these findings.”
According to the outlet, five cases of the new virus strain had been recorded on mink farms and 12 cases in humans.
In September Dutch scientists published a non peer-reviewed report that the virus was jumping between mink and humans.
Emma Hodcroft, a geneticist at the University of Basel, Switzerland, who is studying COVID tweeted to her followers that there is no need to freak out about the mutation. “Don’t panic,” Dr. Hodcroft tweeted. “Scientists will update when we have more info.”
Farmers are calling it a “black day” for the country, as their economy will take a hit. “Of course, we must not be the cause of a new pandemic. 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,” chairman of the industry association for Danish mink breeders Tage Pedersen told Reuters.
And of course, there is another alternative, per Animal Protection Denmark. “The right decision would be to end mink farming entirely and help farmers into other occupation that does not jeopardize public health and animal welfare,” they stated to the New York Times.