'Latvian Strain'? Uncontrolled Mutations of COVID Found Among Farmed Mink in Latvia – Report

© AP Photo / Sergei GritsIn this Dec. 6, 2012, file photo, minks look out of a cage at a fur farm in the village of Litusovo, northeast of Minsk, Belarus
In this Dec. 6, 2012, file photo, minks look out of a cage at a fur farm in the village of Litusovo, northeast of Minsk, Belarus - Sputnik International, 1920, 11.12.2021
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At least four of the virus' mutations discovered at the farm were reportedly described by scientists as potentially dangerous.
Uncontrolled mutations of the COVID-19 virus have been detected at a fur farm in Latvia where some 100,000 mink are being kept, local media outlet delfi.lv reports.
According to the media outlet, the virus first arrived at the Baltic Devon Mink fur farm sometime between 20 February and 3 March, with the first reports of mink contracting COVID emerging in mid-April.
The virus continued to run rampant among the farm's mink population during spring and summer, leading to a situation that Delfi dubbed as "paradoxical": when the Delta strain "dominated" the globe, the mink and the farm employees were contracting the strain that spread in early spring.
The apparent genetic similarity of the virus samples taken from the animals and the people at the farm led scientists to conclude that the pathogen made a jump between species several times.
The media outlet also points out that while some of the mutations of the virus found at the farm apparently weren't previously described by researchers, at least four of the mutations were described in scientific literature as potentially dangerous.

"There are concerns that such mutations might decrease the effectiveness of vaccines", said Monta Briviba, a researcher at Latvia's Biomedical Research and Study Centre who participated in sequencing the virus that has afflicted the mink in the country.

Bob van Ansem, a board member of Baltic Devon Mink, reportedly said that the company employs a strict safety protocol that allows it to establish all sources of infection if its employees fall ill.
Meanwhile, Briviba remarked that the variant of the virus circulating at the farm could potentially be described as the "Latvian strain", the media outlet notes.
Authorities in Latvia are reportedly debating the prospects of culling the mink but a final decision on the subject is yet to be made.
People queue outside the vaccination center in Oksnehallen in Copenhagen, Denmark, on April 12, 2021, during the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic.  - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.12.2021
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Last year, authorities in Denmark launched the culling of the country’s entire stock of farmed mink due to concerns about COVID-19 mutations among the animals. This decision resulted in the extermination of some 15 million mink, and effectively shut down the entire mink fur industry of the country that, until then, was the world's largest producer of that commodity.
The decision to carry out the culling, however, was later deemed illegal, as Danish law doesn't allow the killing of healthy animals, with the ensuing scandal resulting in the resignation of Danish Minister for Agriculture Mogens Jensen.
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