Mutated Strain Of Covid 'Most Likely Eradicated' After 10 Million Mink Culled
A mutated strain of coronavirus that was found in Denmark has 'likely been eradicated', according to the country's health ministry.
The Covid-19 variant, Cluster 5, was found in mink in the country and there were fears that it could make vaccines against the disease less effective.
Officials in Denmark said the strain, which appeared to be resistant to antibodies, has 'most likely' been eliminated after millions of the animals were culled. The last case was recorded in September.
A press release from the Danish Health Ministry, posted earlier today (19 November), states: "The sequencing of the positive tests are showing we have not been able to find the mink variation with Cluster 5 since 15 September and because of this the SSI [Statens Serum Institut, a research institute in Copenhagen is estimating that this variant has very likely has died out.""
Huge areas of northern Denmark were locked down after it was found that the strain had originated there, with 17 million mink ordered to be killed in the hopes of destroying the strain before it became widespread.
Scientists think that the virus jumped from workers in fur farms to the animals in the summer, before it was then passed back to humans. The mutation occurred when it crossed between the two species, with the 'spike' protein used to enter human cells.
The threat was so significant because all the main vaccines work by targeting this protein.
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The UK government banned any non-British citizens returning from Denmark when the news broke, introducing quarantine rules for anybody who had recently come back from the country.
Health Secretary Matt Hancock said that the consequences of the mutated virus could be 'grave' if it were to spread.
Strict lockdown rules were put in to place in Denmark on 5 November across seven municipalities. The rules were meant to stay in place until 3 December, but they will mostly be lifted tomorrow (Friday 20 November).
Cluster 5 was only found in 13 people in the region, and although the strain isn't said to be any worse than Covid-19, it could make the vaccines that have been developed less effective - meaning the spread would be more difficult to keep under control.
So far, 10.2 million mink have been culled, with the slaughter still ongoing in other areas.
The country, which has three times more mink than people, is the second biggest producer of the fur, just behind China.
So far, a few main potential vaccines have been created, made by pharmacuetical companies including Pfizer and Moderna.
Featured Image Credit: PA
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