The situation with the mutated coronavirus in Denmark, which has spread to humans and may pose a risk to the effectiveness of a future corona vaccine, is not yet a reason for the government to adjust policy in the Netherlands.
Incomprehensible, says Party for the Animals leader Esther Ouwehand.
"I think they greatly underestimate the problem."
In Denmark, a part of the country was completely locked up last week after at least twelve people became infected with a mutated variant of the corona virus in mink.
The Danish authorities fear that a future vaccine will not work or will not work properly.
Minister Hugo de Jonge (Public Health) called the developments in Denmark before the weekend "worrisome", but emphasizes that the situation is different from that in the Netherlands.
To begin with, the number of mink farmers in the Northern European country is much larger than in the Netherlands.
"In Denmark at least they act as a precaution. You could say that it is 'only' about twelve infections, but this entire pandemic started with one infection in China," says Ouwehand.
She has been waiting for an answer to written questions to De Jonge for almost four weeks.
In the corona debates, Ouwehand does not get any clarity from the minister either.
"In one way or another De Jonge wants to keep the risks off his plate."
Opposition wants to close mink farms on November 15
In the Netherlands, mink farms are immediately cleared as soon as infections are found.
This is now the case at 69 companies.
De Jonge expects the rest to start pelting the animals, which means that the stables will be empty by the end of this year.
The cabinet wants to end the sector completely in March next year.
Legislation will soon be sent to the Lower House.
Ouwehand thinks that is taking too long.
"The catering industry was also told at 5.30 pm that they had to close at 6 pm. We want a breeding ban for mink as of November 15th."
A motion she recently submitted on this subject was only supported by the opposition parties minus Forum for Democracy and SGP.
According to De Jonge, it is still too early to conclude that a vaccine does not work against the coronavirus of mink.
"We will keep in touch with Denmark and the World Health Organization," said the minister.
RIVM: Situation Denmark different from the Netherlands
The situation in Denmark is also not considered a reason to intervene at the RIVM, a spokesperson said when asked.
Research by the Outbreak Management Team (OMT) last summer showed that people were infected by minks on the farms, but not outside.
"That investigation is still standing," says Harald Wychgel, spokesperson at the RIVM.
He emphasizes that the corona virus is always mutating.
Theoretically, a mutated variant of the coronavirus could also emerge in mink in the Netherlands that makes a vaccine less effective, but that risk has not increased since the alarming reports from Denmark.
“You never know what you don't know. But what you see in Denmark is not the case here,” said Wychgel.
Marion Koopmans, virologist at Erasmus MC and involved in research into corona in minks in the Netherlands, also emphasized this.
"We have been on top of it in the Netherlands since April. In Denmark, people initially waited longer before clearing and that is why it has become further spread", Koopmans recently told
NPO Radio 1
There is another important difference, Koopmans emphasized.
In the Netherlands, mink farms are well protected from the environment, in Denmark they are more open.
Mink farms are well monitored
Mink farms are continuously monitored in the Netherlands, says a spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.
As soon as an infestation is detected anywhere, all minks at that location are culled.
Is the reaction of the Danes perhaps a bit exaggerated?
"A dangerous reasoning", says Ouwehand.
"We know what happens when an infectious variant develops. You should not wait until you have the complete proof. There is a risk here, so act."
See also: Five questions about the mutations in the coronavirus in Danish mink