Minks and Coronavirus: These furry mammals are the latest COVID casualty

Mink (Photo: File image)

It’s a sad time to be a mink in Denmark today. After 400 human cases of COVID-19 in the country were found to be linked to the furry creatures, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced that some 17 million minks in the country will be culled.

An article in a Danish newspaper Berlingske, ominously titled (translated to) “Mink causes new covid-mutation in humans – is Denmark in the risk of becoming the new Wuhan?”, suggests a mink-to-human transmission of coronavirus.

The mutated variant of the coronavirus could pose a new threat to the world if not tackled at the earliest.

Frederiksen announced on Wednesday afternoon that 207 mink farms were infected with SARS-CoV-2.

She added that it has not been possible to curb the spread of the virus, which has infected 400 people in the country. I travelled 1,500 km with my baby to join India’s fight against COVID-19.

The Danish State Serum Institute has revealed that the virus has mutated to such a degree that the vaccines currently being developed around the world may not have an effect on it since the infected people reportedly have an impaired reaction to antibodies.

Understanding the Mink and Coronavirus Link

Mink is a mammal belonging to the weasel family, which includes ferrets, skunks, otters, fishers and wolverines.

Mink (Image: Pixabay)

Fur farmers rear minks for their lush coat of fur, which fetches a high price.

Back in July 2020, the journal Veterinary Pathology reported four mink farms in the Netherlands infected with the SARS-CoV-2. Necropsies found that the dead minks’ throat swabs, nasal cavity, trachea and lungs contained viral RNA and antigen.

In August 2020, the National Veterinary Services Laboratories of the United States Department of Agriculture (SDA) reported SARS-CoV-2 in minks in two Utah farms. After a high number of minks died on the farm, the Utah Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory conducted necropsies on the carcasses of the minks. The samples were positive for COVID. What is Long COVID and who is at risk?

According to their findings, the minks contracted the virus from the farmworkers who had some symptoms of COVID-19. Understandably, it’s anybody’s guess why it’s a cause for concern.

Virologist Dr Emma Hodcroft from the University of Basel, Switzerland has tweeted, asking people to not panic.Blurred vision, nearsightedness? How the lockdown took a toll on your eyes

“This is all coming from press conference/release, we have no scientific context/details yet,” she writes about the ‘mink mutation’.

She added that they know nothing of the mutation or the mink variant in question. Should Denmark go ahead with the culling, they should alert the global scientific community, she tweeted.

“Announcements without context spark alarm, worry & panic headlines. That doesn’t help anyone, & scientists can’t provide assessment or interpretation,” read her tweet.