Six European states, South Africa, the Faroe Islands and the US have reported mink-related COVID-19 mutations, confirming the transmission of the coronavirus from mink to humans. The "mink coronavirus" has proved to reduce antibody efficacy and has been identified in more than 300 variants, according to research from University College London (UCL) Genetics Institute as cited by the Guardian.
After the World Health Organisation revealed that the new coronavirus samples had been detected at mink farms in Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Italy, South Africa, the Faroe Islands, Russia and the United States, Danish scientists uploaded 6,000 virus sequencing and the mink variant information to a Gisaid global database website. Researchers from London used this information and managed to confirm cases of people infected by the mink-related COVID19 mutations in Denmark, UCL Genetics Institute director Francois Balloux said.
The researchers explained that a bigger reservoir host could have imposed a greater threat and caused more infections among humans, so the Danish government’s decision to launch a cull was needed. However, it is still unclear how dangerous the mink variant is to humans and to other animals.
"The main point here, I think, is that although the mutation might not be scary, there is still very good reason to get rid of the mink reservoir. We just don’t need it," Balloux said. The mink variant was marked the 'Sars-CoV-2 Y453F’ and believed to spread with the movement of people, animals and goods from Denmark to other countries.
Earlier this month, the Statens Serum Institut in Denmark discovered a COVID-19 mink variant in humans, which forced the Danish government to launch a nationwide cull of mink. On 5 November, the Danish government approved the slaughter of all mink on fur farms to prevent the spread of the mutated coronavirus, killing around 2.5 million mink. However, Danish Minister for Food and Agriculture Mogens Jensen admitted the decisions did not have legal basis, and resigned.