Coronavirus mutation jumps from mink to humans in Denmark putting ENTIRE region in lockdown after 200 people infected
MORE than a quarter of a million Danes were forced into lockdown today amid reports a mutant strain of mink-related coronavirus had been found in humans.
The worrying news came after Denmark's government started culling 15 million animals at more than 1,100 lucrative mink farms in the north-west of the country.
The country's Prime Minister warned the strain "could pose a risk that future vaccines won't work" as she announced strict measures in the Jutland region.
Denmark’s State Serum Institute – which deals with infectious diseases – has found mink-related versions of coronavirus in 214 people since June, according to a report on its website.
However, the more infectious strain of the mutated coronavirus – which sparked the cull – has to date only been found in 12 people and on five mink farms, reports Reuters.
Danish officials have said that this mutation does not cause a more severe illness in humans – but that it is not inhibited by antibodies to the same degree as the normal virus.
Lab tests and preliminary studies suggest that antibodies in people infected with Covid-19 were less effective in inhibiting the strain – which the report calls 'Cluster 5.'
Of the 12 people infected with this mutated strain, 11 are from the North Jutland region including four who were connected to three of the farms where the strain was found.
The Institute calls the findings “worrying” and says that further studies are now underway.
“The best way to get rid of this variant is generally to slow down the spread of infection,” the report reads.
Mutations making the virus less sensitive to antibodies have been a concern for “a long time” but remained theoretical until this week.
The coronavirus evolves constantly and, to date, there is no evidence that any of the mutations pose an increased danger to people.
However, the Danish authorities are not taking any chances.
"Instead of waiting for evidence, it is better to act quickly," said Tyra Grove Krause, of the Institute.
In seven northern municipalities sport and cultural activities have been suspended, public transportation has been stopped and regional borders have been closed.
Only people with so-called "critical functions" such as police and health officials and different authorities are being permitted to cross municipal boundaries.
People in the region have also been urged to to get tested a soon as possible.
From Saturday, restaurants must close and school students from fifth grade and up will switch to remote learning Monday.
"We must knock down completely this virus variant," said Health Minister Magnus Heunicke.
WHO officials said each case needs to be evaluated to determine if any of the changes mean the virus behaves differently.
"We are a long, long way from making any determination of that kind," said Mike Ryan, the WHO emergencies chief.
He added that such mutations happen all the time in viruses.
"Right now the evidence that we have doesn't suggest that this variant is in any way different in the way it behaves," he said in Geneva.
Peter Ben Embarek, a WHO expert on food safety, said that initial studies on pigs, chickens and cattle "show that these species are not at all susceptible in the same way that mink are, for example.
So even if these animals were infected, they would not be able to sustain and spread the disease in the same way.
Britain on Friday said that people coming from Denmark must self-isolate for 14 days, adding the country to a list of countries it deems risky.
Denmark, the world's largest mink fur exporter, produces an estimated 17 million furs per year.
Kopenhagen Fur, a cooperative of 1,500 Danish breeders, accounts for 40 per cent of the global mink production with most of its exports headingto China and Hong Kong.
PETA Vice President of International Programmes Mimi Bekhechi told the Sun Online: "Fur farms packed with sick, stressed, suffering animals are revolting places – they are dangerous breeding grounds for diseases and have been identified as COVID-19 hotspots.
"Not only could this mutated coronavirus in minks – which has now spread to humans – limit the effectiveness of a future vaccine for humans, as the Danish prime minister has warned, hellhole fur farms are also indefensibly cruel.
"PETA is urging Denmark to ban these pandemic petri dishes immediately – because no one needs a mink coat, but we do need an effective vaccine and an ethical society."
Source: Read Full Article