Photo Credit: Dzīvnieku brīvība via Flickr
A caged mink in a mink farm

Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen told a press conference on Wednesday that he plans to cull the entire mink population in his country, between 15 and 17 million animals in more than 1,800 farms, over fears that they spread to humans a mutation of the coronavirus that “may pose a risk to the effectiveness of a future vaccine.”

She explained: “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.”

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Denmark’s Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said the mutated virus was found in twelve people who had been infected by minks, and that half of the 783 coronavirus cases in northern Denmark “are related to mink.”

Heunicke explained that “studies have shown that the mutations may affect the current candidates for a Covid-19 vaccine,” adding: “It is a threat to the development of coronavirus vaccines. That is why it is important that we make a national effort.”

Denmark’s minister for food, Mogens Jensen, said 207 farms are now infected. In October there were 41 infected farms, suggesting a rapid rate of infection.

According to the WHO, “In a few instances, the minks that were infected by humans have transmitted the virus to other people. These are the first reported cases of animal-to-human transmission.”

The coronavirus has been detected at 207 Danish mink farms, some of them with a mutated virus. So far twelve people were registered as infected with the mutated coronavirus, but authorities expect the real number to be much larger.

According to CBS News, in October, officials reported some 12,000 minks died of the coronavirus disease on farms in Utah and Wisconsin. The United States Department of Agriculture’s National Veterinary Services Laboratories (NVSL) said humans working on one Utah farm who had COVID-19 in July likely transferred the virus to the animals, but there were no signs that the mink had infected any workers back.

Denmark produces 17 million mink furs per year. A single cooperative of 1,500 Danish mink breeders, Kopenhagen Fur, accounts for 40% of the world’s annual mink production. The Danish government expects destroying the mink could cost 5 billion kroner ($785 million).

Finally, since I know the minute we mention mink you guys think shtreimel, the gorgeous fur hat worn by many married Haredi Jewish men, particularly Chassidim, rest assured: according to Wiki, the shtreimel is typically made from the fur of the tails of Canadian or Russian sable, beech marten, baum marten (European pine marten), or American gray fox. So don’t harass your Chassidic neighbors on Shabbat morning.

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David writes news at JewishPress.com.