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Denmark to cull entire mink herd amid mutation fears for coronavirus vaccine

by Reuters
Wednesday, 4 November 2020 15:46 GMT

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COPENHAGEN, Nov 4 (Reuters) - Denmark will cull its entire herd of up to 17 million mink after a mutation of the coronavirus found in the animals spread to humans, posing risk to any possible future vaccine, the prime minister said on Wednesday.

Outbreaks at mink farms have persisted in the Nordic country, the world's largest producer of mink skins, despite repeated efforts to cull infected herds since June.

Health authorities found virus strains in humans and in mink which showed decreased sensitivity against antibodies, potentially lowering the efficacy of future vaccines, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a press conference.

"The mutated virus in mink may pose a risk to the effectiveness of a future vaccine," she said.

Minks have also been culled in the Netherlands and Spain after finding infections.

Denmark's health minister said around half of 783 infected Danes in Northern Denmark, home to a large number of mink farms, had been infected with a virus strain stemming from the farms.

Authorities had registered five cases of the new strain on mink farms and 12 cases in humans.

The mink herd in Denmark totals between 15 million and 17 million, authorities said. (Reporting by Nikolaj Skydsgaard and Jacob Gronholt-Pedersen; Editing by Alison Williams, Jon Boyle and Nick Macfie)

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