In this file:

 

·         Coronavirus: Denmark's agriculture minister resigns over illegal order to cull mink

... Authorities drafted the military and police to help Denmark’s 1,100 mink farmers cull their 17 million mink, one of the world’s biggest populations of the animals...

 

·         Denmark’s mink farmers count cost of botched cull

... “Many big, grown men are crying. It’s devastating,” said Ole Bakke, a mink farmer in North Jutland, the heart of the Covid-19 outbreak. He has killed all his 15,000 mink on a farm he inherited from his father. He was himself infected with coronavirus. “Now it’s all thrown away. And they didn’t have the law to do this — it’s a huge scandal,” he added...

 

·         COVID mink analysis shows mutations are not dangerous — yet

... One mink-associated mutation has spread more widely in people. The mutation, Y453F, also encodes an amino acid change in the spike protein and has been found in about 300 sequences from people in Denmark, as well as sequences from mink and people in the Netherlands. An experimental study suggests that virus variants with the Y453F mutation partially escaped detection by a commercial monoclonal antibody...

 

·         Mutated coronavirus may 'jump back and forth' between animals

... continued spread of coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) in mink farms may eventually give rise to other mutated forms, or variants, "of concern"...

 

 

 

Coronavirus: Denmark's agriculture minister resigns over illegal order to cull mink Comments

 

By Euronews with DPA

18/11/2020

 

Denmark’s Minister of Agriculture has resigned over an illegal government order to cull the country’s farmed mink.

 

Mogens Jensen announced he was stepping down on Wednesday on social media, saying he no longer had the support of a parliament majority.

 

Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen also faced opposition calls to resign, as the Danish government faces its greatest crisis during the coronavirus pandemic.

 

Earlier this month, the government ordered that the country's entire mink population should be slaughtered because of a mutation in the coronavirus that could affect the effectiveness of future vaccines against COVID-19.

 

The drastic order came after analysis from the Danish Health Institute and health authorities, which had identified cluster variants in the coronavirus in the fur animals.

 

Authorities drafted the military and police to help Denmark’s 1,100 mink farmers cull their 17 million mink, one of the world’s biggest populations of the animals.

 

Denmark breeds mink for their fur and farmers had claimed that the order would end their business.

 

The Danish government later found it had no legal basis for the announcement, and could only cull mink where the infection had been detected or in the immediate area.

 

Several of the left and centre parties that give the Social Democratic government of Mette Frederiksen a parliamentary majority promptly withdrew their confidence in the government.

 

“I want the prime minister to acknowledge that when she makes a mistake, it’s her responsibility,” added opposition leader Jakob Elleman-Jensen of the Liberal Party.

 

"She made the decision and she did not intervene and stop it when she became aware that it was illegal, the case, therefore, does not stop with Mogens Jensen's departure," he added on Twitter.

 

Denmark's opposition has also asked for an independent investigation into the government’s actions to determine if they knowingly broke the law

 

"My ministry has made mistakes in connection with the government announcement of the decision to put down all mink in Denmark," Jensen said in a Facebook post.

 

"I regretted this earlier, I regret it again and take responsibility for this, especially I regret this to the many mink farmers who have been in a very unhappy situation.

 

"There has only been one purpose: to stop the Covid-19...

 

more

https://www.euronews.com/2020/11/18/coronavirus-denmark-s-agriculture-minister-resigns-over-illegal-order-to-cull-mink

 

 

Denmark’s mink farmers count cost of botched cull

Plan to curb mutated form of coronavirus has descended into legal and political farce

 

Richard Milne, Nordic and Baltic Correspondent, Financial Times

November 12 2020

 

Jens Wistoft was halfway through killing his life’s work this week when he stopped.

 

The Danish mink farmer had put more than 10,000 of his mink in boxes to be gassed after being ordered to do so last week by the government in Copenhagen over worries that a mutated form of coronavirus could threaten the effectiveness of future vaccines.

 

But on Tuesday the centre-left government admitted it did not have a legal basis to order the killing of mink such as Mr Wistoft’s, whose farm near the German border is almost 100km from the nearest Covid-19 outbreak among the creatures famed for their fur. Denmark is the world’s largest producer of mink.

 

“I feel stupid. I feel stupid because I’ve been killing them and there’s no legislation for it. But you won’t see me give up until I put the last mink in the box,” said Mr Wistoft, who has farmed mink for the past 35 years.

 

Denmark’s decision to cull its entire population of up to 17m mink was initially presented by the Danish government and health authorities as a bold measure to stop the Scandinavian country being the starting point for the next stage of the coronavirus pandemic.

 

But this week the killing descended into a legal, political, scientific and logistical farce. Pictures of hundreds of dead mink squashed on roads after falling off lorries spread on social media. People living next to the military land where millions of mink are being buried because of a lack of capacity at incineration plants complained of the overwhelming smell.

 

“Many big, grown men are crying. It’s devastating,” said Ole Bakke, a mink farmer in North Jutland, the heart of the Covid-19 outbreak. He has killed all his 15,000 mink on a farm he inherited from his father. He was himself infected with coronavirus. “Now it’s all thrown away. And they didn’t have the law to do this — it’s a huge scandal,” he added.

 

In Copenhagen, ministers and health officials contradicted each other. Ministers said it was not until the weekend that they realised they had legal authority to kill only those mink infected with Covid-19 and those found within 8km of the infected. But officials at Denmark’s veterinary and food administration said they had known there was a lack of legal basis for the cull on Wednesday of last week, when prime minister Mette Frederiksen said:

 

more

https://www.ft.com/content/9e518316-6422-41f3-8873-8a75754b2eef

 

 

COVID mink analysis shows mutations are not dangerous — yet

The analysis found the mutations probably won’t jeopardize vaccines, but scientists say the rampant spread means the animals still need to be killed.

 

Smriti Mallapaty, Nature

Nov 13, 2020

 

Health officials in Denmark have released genetic and experimental data on a cluster of SARS-CoV-2 mutations circulating in farmed mink and people, days after they announced the mutations could jeopardize the effectiveness of potential COVID-19 vaccines.

 

News of the mutations prompted the Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to announce on 4 November plans to end mink farming for the foreseeable future — and cull some 17 million animals — sparking a fierce debate about whether such action was legal. But scientists were careful not to raise the alarm until they saw the data.

 

Now, scientists who have reviewed the data say the mutations themselves aren’t particularly concerning because there is little evidence that they allow the virus to spread more easily among people, make it more deadly or will jeopardize therapeutics and vaccines. “The mink-associated mutations we know of are not associated with rapid spread, nor with any changes in morbidity and mortality,” says Astrid Iversen, a virologist at the University of Oxford, UK.

 

But researchers say culling the animals is probably necessary, given the virus’s rapid and uncontrolled spread in mink — detected in more than 200 farms since June — which makes the animals a massive viral source that can easily infect people. In regions with affected mink farms, the number of people with COVID-19 increases a lot, says Iversen. And there are roughly three times more mink than people in Denmark. “The mink cull is necessary,” she says.

 

Uncontrolled spread in mink also increases the opportunity for the virus to evolve and develop mutations that could be concerning, says Jannik Fonager, a virologist at Statens Serum Insitut, the Danish health authority leading the investigations, based in Copenhagen. He says scientists shared their concerns with the government, but that the government decided to cull the mink.

 

On 10 November, the government submitted legislation to enable the cull, and has urged farmers to begin the process.

 

Mink mutations

 

Fonager says researchers in Denmark have sequenced viral samples from 40 mink farms and identified some 170 coronavirus variants...

 

Spread in people

 

One mink-associated mutation has spread more widely in people. The mutation, Y453F, also encodes an amino acid change in the spike protein and has been found in about 300 sequences from people in Denmark, as well as sequences from mink and people in the Netherlands. An experimental study suggests that virus variants with the Y453F mutation partially escaped detection by a commercial monoclonal antibody...

 

Uncontrolled outbreaks

 

In Denmark, the world’s largest producer of mink pelts, authorities are struggling to control farm outbreaks, despite extensive control measures...

 

more

https://www.nature.com/articles/d41586-020-03218-z

 

 

Mutated coronavirus may 'jump back and forth' between animals

 

By Helen Briggs, BBC News (UK)

Nov 13, 2020

 

Coronavirus could potentially leap to other animals, such as rats, mice, ferrets and voles, as well as mink, an expert has warned.

 

The virus could then "come back in future years into the human population", said Sir Jeremy Farrar, director of the Wellcome Trust.

 

His comments came amid new warnings about the virus's evolution in mink.

 

The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control said mink-to-human transmission could occur.

 

And continued spread of coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) in mink farms may eventually give rise to other mutated forms, or variants, "of concern".

 

Further assessment was needed to assess whether mutated forms of the virus might hinder the effectiveness of treatments or vaccines, a new report concluded.

 

Nikolaus Kriz of the European Food Safety Authority, which contributed to the report, said:

 

more

https://www.bbc.com/news/science-environment-54918267