As if you didn’t have enough to worry about already, right? This startling bit of news comes to us from Denmark, home to the world’s largest center of mink farming. But they’ll be losing that title shortly, at least for a while. Scientists there have found that the farm population of minks has become infected with a mutated version of the novel coronavirus. What’s worse is that this strain is probably resistant to any vaccines currently in development. And to top it all off, the mutated virus has already made the jump to at least a dozen human beings. As a result, they’re about to exterminate every mink in the country, numbering around 17 million of them. The Wall Street Journal has the details. (Subscription required)
The novel coronavirus has found a new victim: Denmark’s entire population of farmed mink has been ordered culled after researchers discovered the animals harbor new mutations of the virus that threaten the effectiveness of a future vaccine and are now spreading to humans.
The Danish government’s decision to kill up to 17 million of the animals, which are farmed for their fur, is a crippling blow to the world’s largest mink industry. But officials say it is a necessary precaution to reduce the risk posed by the new mutations, which could change the gene structure in the virus in a way that could make it less susceptible to vaccines now under development.
“Studies have shown that the mutations could affect the current candidates for a Covid-19 vaccine,” Danish Health Minister Magnus Heunicke said in a news briefing Wednesday. At least 12 Danes have been infected with a mutated coronavirus connected to mink, the government said.
The medical community is trying to help keep people calm as they sort this out. Doctors in Denmark are saying that this mutation “hits all the scary buttons” but it’s not as terrible as it may sound. Okay, but it’s still pretty bad. Let’s consider that the virus didn’t show up there until a little more than eight months ago, it’s already made the jump from people to minks, mutated, and jumped back again. And the new mutation appears to be at least as contagious as the previous editions, if not more so. Add to that the belief that the vaccines we’re all waiting for probably won’t provide much protection and that sounds an awful lot like a bad situation.
If, as most medical experts believe, the novel coronavirus arose in bats or some other wild animal in China (with or without the intervention of a lab in Wuhan) and has evolved to affect human beings and now a member of the weasel family, that sounds like a pretty adaptable virus. I’m left wondering about how this changes the game in the future. It’s taken us almost a year to even come close to having a vaccine ready to come out of trials and the damned virus has already done an end-run around us? I’m no doctor, obviously, so keep an ear out for what the experts have to say, but this doesn’t sound good.
This news is also eerily similar to a new movie that’s being released in what may one of the worst decisions to come out of Hollywood since they greenlighted that remake of Ghostbusters. It’s the next film from Michael Bay so of course, I wanted to see what he was up to. The new film is called Songbird and it’s the story of a dystopian future set in 2024. The pandemic is still raging with a death toll in the hundreds of millions and the virus is mutating (with a much higher mortality rate) too quickly for vaccines to get it under control. (Does any of this sound familiar yet?) At its center is a love story described as a modern-day Romeo and Juliette tale, but what’s keeping the lovers apart is “her front door and the virus.”
I’m sorry, but who do they think wants to watch a movie like that now? If I want to be horrified in that fashion, I’ll just turn on CNN, thanks. Anyway, here’s the trailer for the film, just in case you haven’t had enough self-abuse for one week watching the election results drag on.