Updated: Mar 15, 2021
In recent days a new strain of SARS-CoV-2 has been found in Denmark. The people that have been infected are believed to have caught the mutated virus from farmed minks. The minks are believed to have caught the virus from human farm workers which mutated within the cells of the minks and produced this new SARS-CoV-2 which then infected humans. Mink farms in six different countries have been found to have infected minks and this has led to a cull of millions of animals.
Fur farming is the farming, breeding, raising and then killing of animals for their fur; most mink farming is carried out in Europe, although there are also farms in Canada and the USA.
Humans first started using furs in the stone age, catching and skinning wild animals and using their pelts to keep them warm. The furs were used for protective clothing, bedding and other furnishings. As the human population grew and communities developed fur became a commodity, which evolved into a farming system. In the 20th century fur became a status symbol, a sign of wealth, but this declined due to fur falling out of fashion and also the actions of animal activists. There was a movement in the 1980's and 1990's against real fur that included throwing red paint over anyone that was found wearing real fur. This backfired and lost support when people that were wearing fake fur were attacked, it also caused fur, fake or otherwise, to become very unpopular as no one wanted to have paint thrown on them in the street. In the 21st century fur farming became a growing industry again as countries, such as Russia and China grew richer and fur became a sign of wealth in those countries.
The conditions that the animals are kept in varies hugely from farm to farm, with some being given a living area similar to a hutch and access to water to swim and splash in. However, most are kept in small cages that are only large enough for the animal to shuffle around in, often with several animals to a cage. The animals are killed when they are roughly 7 months old, naturally minks live up to 3 years. The fur is sold to the clothing and makeup industry, the remains of the animals can be used for anything from feeding zoo animals to making soap.
The Mink/Covid Connection
It has been well know for years that minks and humans transmit diseases to each other and, in farm conditions, disease can spread from animal to animal rapidly. It is because of this that when cases of disease are found the entire farm stock is often killed. In the case of covid in 2020 this happened in April and then again in June, reports showed that minks had tested positive for COVID-19 on fur farms in Denmark, the Netherlands, Spain, and the USA. Then in November Denmark announced plans to kill up to 17 million farmed minks in an attempt to curb the spread of the mutated virus. The fear is that this new strain could lead to vaccines for covid being rendered useless, that the new strain, coming from minks, would cause a new pandemic, and possibly lead to 2 strains of covid infecting people around the world at the same time.
PETA, who have been campaigning for years for the end of fur farming have renewed their efforts, taking a hazard waste bin full of dead minks to the Danish Embassy in London. News reports of the connection between minks and covid are being broadcast around the world. This post isn't about whether fur farming is right or wrong, this is a vegan blog, our stance is pretty clear. However, there does need to be understanding that farming, of all kinds, poses a risk (an obvious one) to animals, but also to humanity. The conditions that the animals are kept in is perfect for the evolution and spread of disease. For the sake of us all it needs to stop, we don't need to use animals in this way, there really is no positive to this practice.