ITDC INDIA EPRESS/ ITDC NEWS The mutated strain of the novel coronavirus, believed to have transmitted from humans to mink and then back to humans, may have gone extinct according to Danish health authorities.
“No further cases of mink variant with cluster 5 have been detected since Sept. 15, which is why the State Serum Institute assesses that this variant has most likely become extinct,” the ministry said in a statement.
Fears that the new strain could potentially pose a risk to the effectiveness of contemporary vaccines against COVID-19 prompted the Danish government to order the culling of its entire population of mink—numbering 17 million. While the initial order was later deemed illegal, it was since approved by the country’s parliament. However, the country’s agriculture minister resigned over the mistake, with calls for the prime minister to follow.
The PM has defended the decision to cull the country’s mink, saying it was based on the assessment of health authorities. Nearly 300 people were found with variants of coronavirus containing mink-related mutations. One variant, termed ‘Cluster-5’ which was found in five farms and 12 people, has sparked concern over fears this variant could be less responsive to antibody treatments or vaccines.
Mink-related mutations of coronavirus have so far been reported in Denmark, South Africa, Switzerland, the Faroe Islands, Russia and the US. Ireland too
Similar concerns have prompted Ireland’s Chief Medical Officer to call for the culling of the Irish farmed mink population as they represent an “ongoing risk to public health”. RTE reported that, while there are no immediate plans to carry out the proposed cull, government officials in the Department of Agriculture have already informed some farm owners that it will happen.
The SARS-nCoV-2019 itself is believed to have spread to humans via bats and potentially and intermediary animal. The risks of viruses mutating as they pass from one species to another is that this can potentially make them more lethal or better at spreading. So far, however, the mink mutations have not been determined to have increased either lethality or virality of the coronavirus.