Published: Thu, November 19, 2020
Science | By

Mutated COVID strain Cluster 5 sweeps through global Danish mink farms

Mutated COVID strain Cluster 5 sweeps through global Danish mink farms

Two weeks ago, Denmark ordered all farmed mink in the country culled to curb widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 on farms, a situation exacerbated by the discovery of a mutated variant, which authorities said showed reduced sensitivity to antibodies.

It is understood the Chief Medical Officer Dr Tony Holohan wrote to the Department of Agriculture recommending the move, after a mutation of the virus was linked to animals in Denmark.

Her government was forced to admit last week that it had no legal power to order the cull of healthy minks outside the contaminated zones, leading to the resignation on Wednesday of the agriculture minister and dealing a blow to public confidence in the government.

The government on Tuesday reached a deal with other parties on creating a retroactive legal basis for the cull but critics had been arguing Jensen had acted unconstitutionally.

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen had raised the alarm about the mutation in early November, ordering all the country's minks slaughtered.


Opposition leader Jakob Elleman-Jensen of the Liberal party said "this is just the beginning". "I want the prime minister to acknowledge that when she makes a mistake, it's her responsibility".

It's after officials in Denmark discovered a mutated form of Covid 19 can pass back to humans from minks. Breeders have said the culling will put an end to the industry. The country has between 15 million and 17 million of the animals, which are bred for their fur.

The establishment of an independent inquiry would need the support of a majority in parliament, including party allies to the government.

Mink on all farms known to have been infected have been culled, Danish authorities said on Wednesday, but a further 25 farms are still suspected of being infected.

HSE CEO Paul Reid today said all workers and their families have now been tested and none of them tested positive for the virus.

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