A new, mutated strain of the new coronavirus originating from mink cultures in Denmark is “probably” eradicated, the Ministry of Health said on Thursday, amid fears that the new strain could jeopardize COVID-19 vaccines.
“No further cases of mink variant with cluster 5 have been detected since 15 September, which is why the Statens Seruminstitut assesses that this variant has probably been eradicated,” the ministry said in a statement.
Two weeks ago, Denmark ordered all cultivated mink in the country to stop widespread outbreaks of COVID-19 on farms, a situation exacerbated by the discovery of a mutated variant, which authorities said showed reduced susceptibility to antibodies.
On Wednesday, the Nordic country’s food and agriculture minister resigned after the government acknowledged that it did not have the right legal basis behind the killing order, which made it a potential constitutional violation.
Opposition parties in Denmark are also urging Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen to resign, saying she was ultimately responsible.
Frederiksen has apologized publicly, but claims that the decision to remove all mink was sound and based on an assessment from the health authorities.
Based on improved infection rates in the northern part of Denmark, home to most of the country’s mink crops, the Ministry of Health also announced on Thursday that it would reduce the restrictions introduced two weeks ago to limit the spread of the virus.
Mink has shown a special susceptibility to coronavirus infection, a problem inflamed by the fact that mink are grown in large numbers and in close living conditions, according to the World Health Organization.