The coronavirus mutation discovered in Denmark’s mink could spark a new wave of the illness in the country, scientists warn.
Authorities in Denmark — the world’s largest producer of mink furs — said five cases of the new virus strain had been recorded on mink farms and 12 cases in humans.
The mutation showed a decreased sensitivity against antibodies, meaning it could potentially cause a COVID-19 vaccine to be less effective, experts said.
“The worst-case scenario is that we would start off a new pandemic in Denmark,” Prof. Kare Molbak, a vaccine expert and director of infectious diseases at Denmark’s State Serum Institute told The Guardian.
“There’s a risk that this mutated virus is so different from the others that we’d have to put new things in a vaccine and therefore [the mutation] would slam us all in the whole world back to the start.”
The Scandinavian nation announced on Wednesday that it would cull its mink population of up to 17 million over the new virus strain.
“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,” Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said at a news conference.
Outbreaks at mink farms have persisted in the country despite repeated efforts to exterminate infected animals since June.
Denmark’s police, army and home guard will be deployed to speed up the killing process, Frederiksen said.
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