The mutated strain of Covid-19 that prompted Denmark to order the culling of some 17 million mink is “most likely” extinct, the country’s health ministry said Thursday, a day after the Food and Agriculture Minister resigned following the government’s admission that it did not have the legal authority to order the cull, which the government still is defending in the name of public health.
Denmark’s Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen ordered the cull after one of the country’s public health institutes identified a mink-related strain of Covid-19 — often called cluster 5 — that may have been resistant to the vaccines currently in development.
Frederiksen described the threat from the mutated virus—which she said has already been found in 12 people in the country’s north—as “very, very serious” with potentially “devastating consequences worldwide.”
In a statement Thursday, the health ministry said the cluster 5 strain has not been found since September, concluding that it has “most likely become extinct.”
Minks are particularly susceptible to coronavirus, a situation worsened in farms where they are kept in large numbers in close proximity, increasing the chances of disease spreading. Outbreaks have torn through herds around the world, in some cases jumping back into human populations. Following more than 200 mink-related human infections in Denmark, the World Health Organization announced it would investigate mink farming around the world in a bid to prevent the virus spilling over from mink into humans.