More than 17 million visions are being euthanized in Denmark amid a desperate attempt to stop a coronavirus mutation associated with these animals from spreading. Oncologist and public health expert Elmer Huerta examines the case
November 13, 2020 Share on FacebookShare Share on TwitterTweet Share on WhatsAppShare
More than 17 million visions are being euthanized in Denmark and dumped in mass graves amid a desperate attempt to stop a coronavirus mutation associated with these animals from spreading (REUTERS)
Denmark will euthanize around 15 million visions raised on its territory because of a COVID-19 mutation that has already passed to 12 people , Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced on Wednesday. The mutation “could represent a risk that future vaccines [against the coronavirus] will not work as expected,” said the president.
But why is there a link between the disease and the animal? In a special CNN podcast, Coronavirus: Facts vs. Fiction , Dr. Elmer Huerta, a prestigious Peruvian oncologist, physician and communicator based in the United States, examined the Danish allegations, what scientists say and why a possible mutation caused by mink could pose a danger to the vaccine.
“The vague explanation given by the Prime Minister of Denmark, and later by the Minister of Health of that country, was that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, had undergone a certain mutation in mink. It prevented an adequate response from the human defense system, and it could be a global threat because it could interfere with the efficacy of a future vaccine. The scientific community is extremely frustrated by what they describe as a lack of transparency by the Danish authorities, who have not provided absolutely any scientific information in this regard, “ said Huerta.
COVID-19 cases in mink
The fact is that on April 23 and 25 the first outbreaks of infection by the new coronavirus were reported in mink from two hatcheries in the Netherlands. Mink that would have been infected by their breeders (REUTERS)
First, let's remember that the mink is a small mammal, and the center of an industry that uses its fur to make luxury garments and produces oil for the cosmetics industry. The most active countries in this industry are China, Denmark, Poland, the Netherlands, the United States and Spain.
It is also important to know that minks and their relatives, ferrets, are easily infected with viruses and bacteria. So they are widely used as experimental animals in laboratories.
The fact is that on April 23 and 25 the first outbreaks of infection by the new coronavirus were reported in mink from two hatcheries in the Netherlands. Minks that would have been infected by their breeders.
The news causes concern in the first week of November, when the Danish government orders the slaughter of 17 million minks after the SARS-CoV-2 virus from minks infected humans, with at least 214 cases documented in Denmark.
That caused the UK on November 7 to ban Danish citizens from entering the country. In addition, British citizens returning to the UK will be required to quarantine for 14 days, with no exceptions. So, given the seriousness of the situation and the enormous magnitude of the decisions being made, what is the scientific truth about the mutations that the new coronavirus has undergone in mink?
“This is very worrying because it is in this exchange that mutations can occur that can endanger the effectiveness of vaccines and the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies that are being developed to treat the infection,” said Huerta
“At this time there are no scientific details about the significance of these new coronavirus mutations in mink. What is known is that human beings can infect minks, minks infect each other, and that these in turn are capable of infecting human beings ”, warned the specialist.
“This is very worrying because it is in this exchange that mutations can occur that could endanger the effectiveness of vaccines and the effectiveness of monoclonal antibodies that are being developed to treat the infection. Finally, if minks were capable of infecting other animals, large animal reservoirs of the virus would be being created, which would make it extremely difficult to control the virus ”, concluded Huerta.
“The mink is obviously a permissive species for the virus, but in the process certain mutations are selected, which are always present at some level, since that form of the virus works better in mink cells compared to humans” Professor Ian Jones, a virologist at the University of Reading, told the Daily Mail.
According to the expert, the mutations of the peak protein produced by the strain of the virus that comes from mink “could evade the immune response generated to the vaccines currently in development and form COVID-19-2.” “There are many reasons why this would not happen easily, but it is a formal possibility that is why the mass slaughter has occurred. A genetic drift in the virus is to be expected and cases like this need a follow-up, but my risk assessment would be that this is currently only a low-level threat, “he said.
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