November 7, 2020

Denmark will kill its 15 million caged minks — and not save the furs — because it's found a mutated version of the coronavirus.

AP reports. 

The coronavirus evolves constantly and, to date, there is no evidence that any of the mutations pose an increased danger to people. But Danish authorities were not taking any chances. “Instead of waiting for evidence, it is better to act quickly,” said Tyra Grove Krause, head department at Statens Serum Institut, a government agency that maps the spread of the coronavirus in Denmark....

Instead of waiting for evidence, it is better to act quickly. A scary adage, but probably the right attitude for this specific problem. You can't individually test 15 million Danish minks and wait for the results. By the way, there are 5.8 human beings in Denmark, so there are nearly 3 minks per person. 

The pelts of the mink will be destroyed and Danish fur farmers have said the cull, which is estimated to cost up to 5 billion kroner ($785 million), may spell the end of the industry in the country. 

Speaking of weasels, the NYT reports: "A nasal spray that blocks the absorption of the SARS-CoV-2 virus has completely protected ferrets it was tested on, according to a small study released on Thursday by an international team of scientists." It's the animals that might infect us that are useful for tests. 

The nasal spray science is interesting:

The spray attacks the virus directly. It contains a lipopeptide, a cholesterol particle linked to a chain of amino acids, the building blocks of proteins. This particular lipopeptide exactly matches a stretch of amino acids in the spike protein of the virus, which the pathogen uses to attach to a human airway or lung cell. 

Before a virus can inject its RNA into a cell, the spike must effectively unzip, exposing two chains of amino acids, in order to fuse to the cell wall. As the spike zips back up to complete the process, the lipopeptide in the spray inserts itself, latching on to one of the spike’s amino acid chains and preventing the virus from attaching. 

“It is like you are zipping a zipper but you put another zipper inside, so the two sides cannot meet,” said Matteo Porotto, a microbiologist at Columbia University and one of the paper’s authors.

ADDED: Are minks and ferrets weasels? They're all in the same genus, Mustela, and "The family Mustelidae, or mustelids, (which also includes badgers, otters, and wolverines) is often referred to as the 'weasel family.'"  

I chose to bring in "weasels" because "weasels" is one of those words that just feels funny, a phenomenon I examined in some detail, here, in 2006 (replete with "Weasels Ripped My Flesh" image). Also, weasels are one of the few animals that have their own tag here on the Althouse blog. I can't have a tag for every animal, certainly not minks. Or ferrets. Remember the time Giuliani, talking to a guy obsessed with keeping ferrets as pets, said, "This excessive concern with little weasels is a sickness"?

Bonus fact: "In the UK, the term 'weasel' usually refers to the smallest species, the least weasel (M. nivalis)":


















Least Weasel, cc Keven Law.

40 comments:

Oso Negro said...

And speaking further of weasels, I wonder what the election news will bring today?

tim maguire said...

I was shocked when I read this that Denmark has 15 million mink. I thought the industry was already pretty much dead by animal activist.

“Better to act quickly than to wait for evidence” is also known as The Precautionary Principle—a logical fallacy that does much mischief in the world. For instance, it is one of the driving forces behind CAGW.

Interesting information on the nasal spray. Since it’s not injected into muscle or blood, hopefully human testing can happen very quickly.

D.D. Driver said...

I was shocked when I read this that Denmark has 15 million mink. I thought the industry was already pretty much dead by animal activist.

It makes me wonder whether the government is paying the farmers. I would assume so. Which also makes me wonder whether this is just a pretext by the mink farmers to cash out on a dying business. Never let a crisis go to waste.

tim maguire said...

D.D. Driver said...It makes me wonder whether the government is paying the farmers. I would assume so. Which also makes me wonder whether this is just a pretext by the mink farmers to cash out on a dying business. Never let a crisis go to waste.

Good take. You might be right and that would put it in a framing that makes sense to me.

P.S. love the rebirth of the back and forth. I hope we are able to keep it.

Lucien said...

There are cute Stoat videos on YouTube.

David Begley said...

Just as I suspected! Badgers and Wolverines are part of the weasel family.

DEEBEE said...

‘Instead of waiting for evidence, it is better to act quickly. A scary adage, but probably the right attitude for this specific problem”

Even scarier is your response, of a putative smart person. Bet you will be willing to burn your house down if that mutated virus is found in it.

walter said...

Should have worn their masks.

stevew said...

When they forecast SMOD is headed out way it would be best that we all commit suicide before its arrival.

I bet D.D.Driver is correct.

We have Fishers around here, other weasel family (Mustelids too) members too. Fishers get attention because of their size and that they aggressively cull the domestic cat population.

William said...

Cherchez la conspiracy. I would have initially thought that the anti-fur people would have been responsible for the cull. But, on further thought, maybe not. Animal rights people aren't usually in favor of mass extinction events. The idea that this might be a way for the mink farmers to cash out is a better conspiracy. There's also the possibility that the chinchilla farms have used this to eliminate their hated rivals. The chinchilla farmers are mostly Russian and have the backing of Putin's KGB and propaganda arm. This is all speculative, but I don't think you can completely eliminate the possibility of Russian interference in Danish mink farms.

rehajm said...

We see minks on the golf course once in a while. In the spring they really go for the eggs in the bird houses...

Curious George said...

"David Begley said...
Just as I suspected! Badgers and Wolverines are part of the weasel family."

And Cornhuskers are all part of the same family.

"They're all in the same genus, Mustela, and "The family Mustelidae, or mustelids, (which also includes badgers, otters, and wolverines)"

Don't forget fishers. Nasty little bastards.

Mike Sylwester said...

Yesterday, Ivor Cummins posted a new YouTube video in which he talks with Nick Hudson, the founder of the Panda Pandemics company.

Hudson made an interesting point about false positives in COVID testing.

Suppose you had a test with a 1% rate of false positives and an isolated population of one million people where not even one person has COVID. Then, if you tested the entire population, you you find that 10,000 people are infected with COVID.

So, if you have 15 million minks and test all of them, then you will find that at least 150,000 of them are infected with COVID.

david said...

Hope the ballots aren't deemed similarly infected and destroyed before all the counting business is settled...

mikee said...

Dave Barry, referenced in your definitive weasel post of 2006, also famously wrote about owners of new pickup trucks that they could be seen "faunching around like peach orchard boars." For example, by putting flags all over them and driving up and down the highways, I suppose.

As a postdoc at Georgia Tech I once arranged a three way swap of some surplus lab supplies for some maintenance work, which somehow resulted in obtaining some comfortable office chairs for my entire research group. My boss, when presented with a comfy new office chair, called me a conniving weasel and told me to keep up the good work. Best boss ever.

Lurker21 said...

Step aside for the Minkicide?

This gives new meaning to the phrase "Fur is Murder" and may leave animal rights activists conflicted.

Lurker21 said...

And in this country, Trump's association with Giuliani cost him the votes of millions of ferrets.

The loss wasn't offset by the thousands of Big Gulp drinkers turned off by Bloomberg's pro-Biden ads.

tcrosse said...

Redd Foxx gag:
"How do I get a mink coat, Daddy?"
"Same way the mink do, only more often and with strangers."

LuAnn Zieman said...

I wonder if the other Scandinavian countries north of Denmark have this problem. When I visited my Norwegian relatives on the Trondheim fjord years back, one of them was raising mink and fox. I took pictures of them. I see that Norway plans to shut down all fox and mink farms by 2025.

Leland said...

Progressives doing what progressives do. When it comes to killing things, no need to wait for the evidence.

Roughcoat said...
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Roughcoat said...

The Danes and Denmark are not "progressive." Not left-wing. Nor are they anti-American. They have been staunch allies of the U.S. in the war on terror. They have willingly contributed combat units to the fight and Americans who have worked with Danish troops have nothing but good things to say about them, praising them for their competency, courage, and professionalism. Same goes for the Dutch, by the way.

Rusty said...

First the killing, then the science. It's always the same with leftys.

John henry said...

Is ferret-legging still a thing?

daskol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Big Mike said...

Pack of assholes. You harvest the pelts, you let them sit for a few days until the virus is certain to be dead (or soak them in some disinfectant), and use them. For a short time mink coats become cheaper than cloth coats but there's nothing wrong with that.

daskol said...

God bless loudmouth NYers and their unhinged ranting. I remember catching that Giuliani bit either live or on a recorded replay of his weekly radio program on one of the public access channels. That ferret rant was terrific, but the most badass one was where some woman called in pretending to want to talk about some policy stuff, and then tore into the Mayor over police shooting her son. Giuliani tore right back: your son was a drug dealer, he attacked the cops, what kind of mother could you have been? He did not appreciate it when people mosrepreeented the topic they wanted to discuss to get through the screeners. Loudmouth know-it-all weirdos from NYC: they’re all that stands between us and flamethrower time in America.

RLB_IV said...

All those mink coats, jackets and mink bed spreads gone to waste. That is a travesty of immense proportions.

ga6 said...

Mink zilla

Anonymous said...

>The pelts of the mink will be destroyed and Danish fur farmers have said the cull, which is estimated to cost up to 5 billion kroner ($785 million), may spell the end of the industry in the country.

Is the Danish government going to compensate the farmers for their losses? Assuming the answer is "lol, of course not," there a charity setup?

They are suffering to help everyone else.

LA_Bob said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Janet Roesler said...

>> there are 5.8 human beings in Denmark, so there are nearly 3 minks per person. << Um, no. There are 2,586,207 minks per person, if there are 15 million minks. And I would like to meet that .8 of a person, bless his heart.

friscoda said...

thank you for the Rudy flashback. We listened to this live for some unknown reason while driving upstate way back when. IIRC he referred to the caller's "obsession" with his ferret as a "sickness, a sickness I tell you". To this day, we laugh about that call. Rudy was a horrible prosecutor but an excellent mayor. He really loves NYC, unlike the clown show that we have now.

Tomcc said...

I'd like to know more about the nasal spray (god forbid I should follow the link to the NYT). Assuming they could use it for us humans, for how long could it be effective against the virus?

Tomcc said...

Aha! Followed the link to a non-paywalled page: "daily spritz".

Tyrone Slothrop said...

A couple of ferrets appeared on the grounds of the five-star hotel I used to work at, no doubt freed by a hapless owner since it is illegal to own ferrets in California. I'm sure they helped control the population of mice and rats which could sometimes be a problem. I never knew what happened to them, but I wished them well.

Mid-Life Lawyer said...

I have had three major cancers in the last six years (prostate, squamous cell of the base of tongue, thyroid), but I am going to die from getting Covid off a coat smuggled out of Finland and worn by the Dallas woman sitting the next booth over from me at Campasi's on Lovers Lane.

n.n said...

You can also clean your nose with soap. Not only is the virus fat-soluble, but it is also destroys the virus. Oh, and wear goggles. No PPE assembly is complete without goggles. The eyes are a window to viral (and social) contagion. And be sure to know the limitations of masks and change them often to mitigate viral ingestion and transmission, and bacterial infections.

Marc said...

Interrupted the nonsense I was reading yesterday evening with supper and a movie version, from the early years of the millennium, of Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows. As everyone will recall, in the Wild Wood lived Badger and the dastardly weasels, stoats, and ferrets. In this film, they (the weasels et al) were depicted as human beings, Roumanian youths and children (presumably the movie was photographed in that lovely country)-- which I thought was a bit of cleverness since Badger, Mole, Rat, and Toad are anthropomorphical animals too (all well known English actors in this case).

Biff said...

Most of the mink furs produced in Denmark go to the Chinese marketplace.

If the Danish mink industry closes down, where will China get its mink from?

Will this spur farming of mink in China?

Are conditions in mink farms outside of Denmark likely to be better or worse than conditions inside of Denmark?

"Wuhan Mink" sounds pretty catchy, no?