Denmark to cull up to 17 million mink amid coronavirus fears

Caged mink on a farm in Gjoel, North Jutland, Denmark, on 9 October 2020
There are more than 1,000 mink farms in Denmark

In an effort to stem the tide of coronavirus, as many as 17 million minks are to be culled in Denmark after a mutated version of the coronavirus that can spread to humans was detected on mink farms, Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen said the mutated virus posed a “risk to the effectiveness” of a future Covid-19 vaccine, Denmark is the world’s biggest producer of mink fur.

Police said the culling should happen as soon as possible. Coronavirus cases have been detected in mink farms in Denmark’s northern Jutland region, and in other parts of Europe, for several months, but cases are spreading fast in Denmark, and five cases of the new virus strain were found on mink farms, twelve people had become infected, the authorities said. Prime Minister Frederiksen described the situation as “very, very serious”. She cited a government report which said the mutated virus had been found to weaken the body’s ability to form antibodies, potentially making the current vaccines under development for Covid-19 ineffective.

We have a great responsibility towards our own population, but with the mutation that has now been found, we have an even greater responsibility for the rest of the world as well, she told a news conference. Minks at more than 1,000 farms are to be culled, police Chief Thorkild Fogde said it would be a “very large undertaking”. Spain culled 100,000 minks in July after cases were detected at a farm in Aragón province, and tens of thousands of the animals were slaughtered in the Netherlands following outbreaks on farms there, studies are under way to find out how and why minks have been able to catch and spread the infection.

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