Denmark Reportedly Plans To Kill Up To 17 Million Mink To Stop Spread Of Mutated Coronavirus

A picture of mink at a farm.
Ole Jensen / Getty Images

Denmark is reportedly planning to cull millions of mink in the country after a mutated form of coronavirus was found in the animals and previous efforts to stem an outbreak were unsuccessful.

As The Guardian reported, Danish Prime Minister Mette Frederiksen announced this week that the virus has mutated and spread to humans, prompting the decision to kill the remaining animals to prevent further spread. While the move led to some alarming headlines, public health officials urged calm and said people should not jump to conclusions.

Soumya Swaminathan, the chief scientist with the World Health Organization, said there was still more research needed to see how the mutation could affect plans for a vaccine for the infection.

“We need to wait and see what the implications are but I don’t think we should come to any conclusions about whether this particular mutation is going to impact vaccine efficacy,” she said. “We don’t have any evidence at the moment that it would.”

As CNN reported, there are between 15 million and 17 million mink in Denmark, which is the world’s largest producer of mink furs. There has been an outbreak of coronavirus among the animals dating back to June, and efforts to cull infected animals had not been effective in bringing it to an end.

There are other ongoing efforts to contain the spread of the mutated virus as well, the report added. Frederiksen announced new restrictions in certain areas of the country and warned that there could be more actions to come.

“Unfortunately, the residents of those municipalities have to prepare for further restrictions in the near future,” she said.

Public health experts believe the initial spread of the novel coronavirus started in 2019 when the virus jumped from animals to humans. Many believe that the initial transmission came through an infected bat in China, though others have speculated that it could have been another animal. China has been criticized for not taking stronger precautions to contain the initial outbreak after the first intra-species transmission sometime late last year.

The move comes as a number of countries have worked on a vaccine to combat the current pandemic, with warnings that countries headed into the winter months will see surges in cases as social distancing measures become more difficult. A number of European countries have had to institute new restrictions and lockdown measures. As NBC News noted, the number of daily cases cases in the United States hit a record at more than 120,000 on Thursday.