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A cull of all 2,500 mink at that farm in the northern Greek region of Kozani will begin shortly. In Greece mink farming for fur is a €60-€70 million per year industry. Dimitris Kosmidis, head of the Greek fur federation in Kozani, said: “This has dealt another blow to the 800 families living off the sector in the region.”
There are now suggestions the mink variant of the deadly pathogen has already jumped to one of the breeders at the mink farm.
The breeder who worked on the farm in the northerly Kozani region has now tested positive for coronavirus.
Authorities have now started doing tests on the other workers.
Danish researchers have suggested the mutated variant of coronavirus found in mink has genetic changes that have the potential to make a vaccine less effective.
The genetic change is in the spike protein of the virus.
This protein spike is important in the body’s immune response, and a key target for vaccines.
The Statens Serum Institut (SSI) in Copenhagen released a statement that said: “Preliminary studies suggest that this virus from cluster 5 exhibits decreased susceptibility to antibodies from more individuals with past infection compared to a non-mutated virus.
“This finding is of concern as it could potentially have an impact on the future of a COVID-19 vaccine against infection with this and other new mink variants.
“Before the concerns that there may be decreased susceptibility to antibodies from vaccines were of a theoretical nature.
“However, this concern has now become real after the trials that SSI first had results of on Monday, November 2nd.”
The news comes after Denmark culled its entire population of 17 million mink after the outbreak of a mutated version of coronavirus spread from the animals to humans.
On 4 November, the Danish government announced proposals to end mink farming in the country for the foreseeable future.
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Coronavirus has devasted mink populations in other parts of the world where the virus spreads rapidly through the tightly packed conditions on the fur farms.
In the US, more than 15,000 mink have died of coronavirus since August.
After the announcement of the culling of millions of mink due to the new variant of coronavirus, the Humane Society International-Europe spokesman Joanna Swabe told the Metro, “although the death of millions of mink, whether culled for Covid-19 or killed for fur, is an animal welfare tragedy, fur farmers will now have a clear opportunity to pivot away from this cruel and dying industry.
“They will be given the opportunity to choose a more humane and sustainable livelihood instead”.
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